15 Fun Facts About Time Bandits

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Starring Sean Connery, and co-written and directed by the one and only Terry Gilliam, Time Bandits told the story of a young boy named Kevin, who goes on an adventure through space and time with six little people determined to rob from history’s greats, while on the run from The Supreme Being, whose map of “time holes” they have stolen, and Evil himself. Here are some facts about the movie that aren’t evil, so you can touch them.

1. TERRY GILLIAM FIRST CAME UP WITH THE IDEA IN 1979.

Gilliam wanted to do an entire film from a kid’s point of view. The only problem was he felt he needed to give the protagonist child a group of people of similar height to surround him, because a kid couldn’t carry an entire movie. He combined those thoughts with the concept of committing crimes while time traveling, making it possible to get away with the thievery because it had not happened yet.

2. GILLIAM WANTED TO MAKE BRAZIL FIRST, BUT WASN’T ALLOWED TO.

Gilliam and the other members of Monty Python, along with former Beatle George Harrison, created a production company called HandMade Films, and installed their manager Denis O’Brien as the head of the company. O’Brien never understood Brazil, so "out of frustration" Gilliam came up with a family-friendly idea O’Brien couldn’t pass up. During his successful pitch of Time Bandits to O’Brien, Gilliam acted out the entire outline.

3. GEORGE HARRISON MORTGAGED HIS OFFICE BUILDING TO FINANCE THE FILM.

No studio wanted to make Time Bandits, so Harrison and O’Brien funded the filming for the necessary $5 million. Even though the film ended up being a financial and commercial success, Harrison was frustrated with Gilliam’s stubbornness, as evident by the lyrics to Harrison’s song “Dream Away,” which the musician wrote for Time Bandits and plays at the end of the movie. Harrison even once told Gilliam he reminded him of John Lennon—because he was so difficult and “bolshie.”

4. GILLIAM AND MICHAEL PALIN WROTE FOR AGAMEMNON TO BE "SEAN CONNERY OR AN ACTOR OF EQUAL BUT CHEAPER STATURE" IN THEIR SCRIPT, NEVER BELIEVING THEY WOULD ACTUALLY GET SEAN CONNERY.

In the early 1980s, Connery’s career was, as Gilliam described it, “at its nadir,” and Denis O’Brien was a golf partner of the former James Bond. Even more fortunately, Connery was a fan of the Pythons and signed up.

5. CRAIG WARNOCK WAS CAST AFTER GOING WITH HIS BROTHER TO HIS AUDITION.

Craig Warnock's brother Grant auditioned to play Kevin, but Gilliam was more interested in the quiet Craig. Gilliam has said he finds kid actors “too cute.”

6. MICHAEL PALIN WANTED TO PLAY ROBIN HOOD.

O’Brien wanted a bigger star for the most potential financial success, so John Cleese was called in instead. Palin wrote himself in as Vincent as a consolation.

7. CONNERY TOOK CONTROL ON THE FIRST DAY OF SHOOTING.

Gilliam hadn’t directed in years, and his first day back behind the camera took place on top of a mountain .. in Morocco ... in 130-degree heat. After struggling to get things right, Connery helped by strongly suggesting to his director that he shoot his parts first and let him leave before working with Warnock, who was living through his first day ever on a movie set. Connery also informed Gilliam they would deal with the star actually getting on the horse during post-production.

8. RALPH RICHARDSON TOOK PLAYING "SUPREME BEING" VERY SERIOUSLY.

He changed a bunch of his lines. When crossing out what Gilliam and Palin had written for him in red ink, he would sometimes say “God wouldn’t say that” while doing so.

9. THE LITTLE PEOPLE WERE WRITTEN BASED ON THE PERSONALITIES OF THE ACTORS.

For example, the character of Randall saw himself as the leader, as did David Rappaport, the actor who played him. Unfortunately for Rappaport, he also was gradually disliked by some of the other actors—among them Kenny Baker (Fidgit), better known as the man inside R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies—for not associating with them off-camera. Gilliam and Palin noticed this, and when they needed a new scene, it inspired them to write the part where the others turn on Randall

10. GILLIAM ACCIDENTALLY JUMPED AND LANDED ON SHELLEY DUVALL.

The director was demonstrating how safe it was to jump off a scaffold by jumping off of it himself. Gilliam meant to land around Palin and Duvall (she played Pansy in her first role after shooting The Shining), but instead landed on Duvall’s head.  She recalled the experience to Roger Ebert in December of 1980, telling the famed film critic, "I could have been paralyzed. As it is, there's just a pain that comes through my ears to my eye, and then goes away." The pain recurred about twice a week, for two minutes.

11. FIDGIT DIED SO CONNERY COULD LIVE.

Agamemnon was supposed to lead the group of archers and be crushed by the falling column. Connery could only film for 14 days though, so it was rewritten for Fidgit to take the fall.

12. CONNERY ENDED UP FIGURING OUT A WAY TO RETURN AGAIN.

Back at their first meeting, Connery told Gilliam he thought it would be great if he played the firefighter at the end. When the initial ending for Time Bandits wasn’t satisfactory enough for Gilliam, he remembered what his star said. And managed to convince Connery, who happened to be back in London to see his accountant that day, to go into the studio for two quick shots in a firefighter’s outfit. The scene wasn’t even written until a month later.

13. GILLIAM HAD TO FIGHT TO BLOW UP THE PARENTS.

O’Brien was only convinced that the violent ending could stay after an advance screening of the movie was held for an audience full of children. The first child who was asked what his favorite moment of the film was excitedly proclaimed, “The parents being blown up!”

14. A SCENE WHERE THE BANDITS TRY TO ROB A BANK IN 22ND-CENTURY LONDON WAS CUT.

In a scene that didn’t make it into the final film, Og (Mike Edmonds) got entangled by a tendril that dragged him into a cave. The tendril turned out to be yarn from two eight-footed old women who are knitting spider webs to capture knights. The scene was supposed to take place before the Bandits enter the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. The footage has supposedly since been destroyed.

15. THERE HAS BEEN TALK OF A SEQUEL SINCE 1996.

Two drafts of a script for Time Bandits II were written. Then, in 2001, the Hallmark Channel announced it was bringing the movie back as a four-hour miniseries, but nothing ever came of it. In 2006, there was talk of the story continuing in comic book form, on the same day that the proposed comic book publisher’s dissolution was announced. Most recently, in April, Gilliam again mentioned that he was involved in a TV series based on the movie.

10 Reusable Gifts for Your Eco-Friendliest Friend

Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
Disposable tea bags can't compete with this pla-tea-pus and his friends.
DecorChic/Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

By this point, your eco-friendly pal probably has a reusable water bottle that accompanies them everywhere and some sturdy grocery totes that keep their plastic-bag count below par. Here are 10 other sustainable gift ideas that’ll help them in their conservation efforts.

1. Reusable Produce Bags; $13

No more staticky plastic bags.Naturally Sensible/Amazon

The complimentary plastic produce bags in grocery stores aren’t great, but neither is having all your spherical fruits and vegetables roll pell-mell down the checkout conveyor belt. Enter the perfect alternative: mesh bags that are nylon, lightweight, and even machine-washable.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Animal Tea Infusers; $16

Nothing like afternoon tea with your tiny animal friends.DecorChic/Amazon

Saying goodbye to disposable tea bags calls for a quality tea diffuser, and there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be shaped like an adorable animal. This “ParTEA Pack” includes a hippo, platypus, otter, cat, and owl, which can all hang over the edge of a glass or mug. (In other words, you won’t have to fish them out with your fingers or dirty a spoon when your loose leaf is done steeping.)

Buy it: Amazon

3. Rocketbook Smart Notebook; $25

Typing your notes on a tablet or laptop might save trees, but it doesn’t quite capture the feeling of writing on paper with a regular pen. The Rocketbook, on the other hand, does. After you’re finished filling a page with sketches, musings, or whatever else, you scan it into the Rocketbook app with your smartphone, wipe it clean with the microfiber cloth, and start again. This one also comes with a compatible pen, but any PILOT FriXion pens will do.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Food Huggers; $13

"I'm a hugger!"Food Huggers/Amazon

It’s hard to compete with the convenience of plastic wrap or tin foil when it comes to covering the exposed end of a piece of produce or an open tin can—and keeping those leftovers in food storage containers can take up valuable space in the fridge. This set of five silicone Food Huggers stretch to fit over a wide range of circular goods, from a lidless jar to half a lemon.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Swiffer Mop Pads; $15

For floors that'll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.Turbo Microfiber/Amazon

Swiffers may be much less unwieldy than regular mops, but the disposable pads present a problem to anyone who likes to keep their trash output to a minimum. These machine-washable pads fasten to the bottom of any Swiffer WetJet, and the thick microfiber will trap dirt and dust instead of pushing it into corners. Each pad lasts for at least 100 uses, so you’d be saving your eco-friendly friend quite a bit of money, too.

Buy it: Amazon

6. SodaStream for Sparkling Water; $69

A fondness for fizzy over flat water doesn’t have to mean buying it bottled. Not only does the SodaStream let you make seltzer at home, but it’s also small enough that it won’t take up too much precious counter space. SodaStream also sells flavor drops to give your home-brewed beverage even more flair—this pack from Amazon ($25) includes mango, orange, raspberry, lemon, and lime.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Washable Lint Roller; $13

Roller dirty.iLifeTech/Amazon

There’s a good chance that anyone with a pet (or just an intense dislike for lint) has lint-rolled their way through countless sticky sheets. iLifeTech’s reusable roller boasts “the power of glue,” which doesn’t wear off even after you’ve washed it. Each one also comes with a 3-inch travel-sized version, so you can stay fuzz-free on the go.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Countertop Compost Bin; $23

Like a tiny Tin Man for your table.Epica/Amazon

Even if you keep a compost pile in your own backyard, it doesn’t make sense to dash outside every time you need to dump a food scrap. A countertop compost bin can come in handy, especially if it kills odors and blends in with your decor. This 1.3-gallon pail does both. It’s made of stainless steel—which matches just about everything—and contains an activated-charcoal filter that prevents rancid peels and juices from stinking up your kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Fabric-Softening Dryer Balls; $17

Also great for learning how to juggle without breaking anything.Smart Sheep

Nobody likes starchy, scratchy clothes, but some people might like blowing through bottles of fabric softener and boxes of dryer sheets even less. Smart Sheep is here to offer a solution: wool dryer balls. Not only do they last for more than 1000 loads, they also dry your laundry faster. And since they don’t contain any chemicals, fragrances, or synthetic materials, they’re a doubly great option for people with allergies and/or sensitive skin.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Rechargeable Batteries; $40

Say goodbye to loose batteries in your junk drawer.eneloop/Amazon

While plenty of devices are rechargeable themselves, others still require batteries to buzz, whir, and change the TV channel—so it’s good to have some rechargeable batteries on hand. In addition to AA batteries, AAA batteries, and a charger, this case from Panasonic comes with tiny canisters that function as C and D batteries when you slip the smaller batteries into them.

Buy it: Amazon

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5 World War I-Era Tips for Celebrating Thanksgiving in Strange Times

Thanksgiving Day menu from November 1917 at Fort D. A. Russell in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Thanksgiving Day menu from November 1917 at Fort D. A. Russell in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
National World War I Museum and Memorial

The year 2020 has been one of hardships, sacrifices, and reimagined traditions. As the United States enters the holiday season with COVID-19 cases at a record high, this reality is more undeniable than ever.

Thanksgiving may look different for many people this year, but it won’t be totally unprecedented. Whether you’re connecting with people remotely, entertaining a smaller group, or trying out a new menu, you can find guidance in the records of Thanksgivings past.

As a 1918 newspaper article from the National World War I Museum and Memorial’s archives reads, “The thanks of the Yanks may differ this year from that of peace-time Novembers, but [...] the spirit of the day is always the same, however much the surroundings may differ."

Americans celebrating Thanksgiving at home and abroad during World War I had to deal with food shortages, being away from family, and, in 1918, a global pandemic. Mental Floss spoke with Lora Vogt, the World War I Museum’s curator of education, about what people making the best of this year’s holiday can learn form wartime Thanksgiving celebrations.

1. Mail Treats to Loved Ones.

Thanksgiving postcard from 1918.National World War I Museum and Memorial

Even when separated by great distances, families found ways to share food on Thanksgiving a century ago. “We have all of these letters from service members saying thanks for the candy, thanks for the cakes, thank you for the donuts—all of these foods they were sent from their loved ones when they couldn't be together,” Vogt tells Mental Floss.

If you're spending Thanksgiving apart from the people you love this year, sending them a treat in the mail can be a great way to connect from a distance. Just remember that not everything people mailed to each other during World War I belongs in a modern care package. “I would suggest you forgo the live chickens,” Vogt says. “The USPS has been through so much this year already.”

2. Try a New Recipe.

Food shortages made ingredients like sugar, wheat, and red meat hard to come by during World War I. In 1918, the U.S. government released a cookbook titled Win the War in the Kitchen, which featured ration-friendly recipes. Americans aren’t dealing with the same food shortages they saw during World War I (or even March 2020) this Thanksgiving, but an unconventional celebration could be the perfect excuse to recreate a dish from history. Some recipes from Win the War in the Kitchen that could fit into your Thanksgiving menu include corn fritters, lentil casserole, carrot pudding, Puritan turkey stuffing, and maple syrup cake with maple syrup frosting. You can find the full digitized version of the book at the National World War I Museum’s online exhibit.

3. Depart From Tradition.

This year is the perfect opportunity to break the rules on Thanksgiving. That means instead of sitting down to a stuffy dinner at a set time, you could enjoy a relaxed day of eating, drinking, and binge-watching. This excerpt from a 1918 letter written by serviceman James C. Ryan to his mother may provide some inspiration:

"Had Thanksgiven [sic] dinner at Huber's over in Newark. Collins was in Cleveland on a furlough and Huber and his wife was alone with me [...] Started off with a little champagne and I certainly did put away an awfull [sic] feed. Had several cold bottles during the day and after coming back from a movie we had a few and some turkey sandwiches."

“Starting off with a little champagne does not sound like a bad plan,” Vogt tells Mental Floss. “And it was very much a small pod. They have their variation of Netflix, and then turkey sandwiches at the end of the day. Certainly some similarities and some inspiration there.”

Thanksgiving festivities were also unconventional for soldiers serving overseas in World War I. While stationed "somewhere in France" on November 29, 1918, Hebert Naylor wrote to his mother describing a Thanksgiving with two big meals—and not a turkey in sight:

“We came back and had breakfast at 10 o’clock. It consisted of pancakes, syrup, bacon and coffee. We had the big dinner at 4:30 PM and I tell you it was quite a dinner to be served to so many men. It consisted of baked chicken, creamed corn, french fried potatoes, lettuce, pie, cake and coffee. This was the first pie and cake I had since I left home and believe me it tasted good.”

4. Find Normalcy Where You Can.

Thanksgiving 1918 for the 79th Aero Squadron at Taliaferro Field, Hicks, Texas.National World War I Museum and Memorial

No matter what your Thanksgiving looks like in 2020, making room for a couple of traditions can provide much-needed comfort in a year of uncertainty. Even people celebrating during wartime 100 years ago were able to incorporate some normalcy into their festivities. On November 29, 1917, serviceman Thomas Shook wrote about seeing a football game while at army training camp: “In the afternoon several of us went to the Army vs. Ill. U. football game. There sure was some crowd. Army lost the game first they have lost.”

Keeping some classic items on the menu is another way make the day feel more traditional. Army trainee Charles Stevenson wrote to his grandmother on Thanksgiving 1917: “We had about the best dinner I ever ate today—turkey, cranberry sauce and cranberries, fruit salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, tea and mine [sic] pie. Pretty fine eating for the soldier bosy [sic].”

5. Share What You’re Thankful For.

During the Great War’s darkest moments, some service members were still inspired to express gratitude when Thanksgiving rolled around. Thomas Shook wrote in a letter to his parents dated November 28, 1918 that after surviving the war, he had now escaped the Spanish Flu that was infecting many of the men he served with. Despite the hardships he endured, he was thankful to have been spared by the virus and be on his way home.

Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, sharing what you’re grateful for with loved ones—even if it’s by phone, Zoom, or a handwritten letter—is a simple way to celebrate the holiday.