Time Bandits and the Sorrow of David Warner
Today must be a very Gilliam day here at Death By Movies, because while Joe3 just watched 12 Monkeys for his Sci-Fi Odyssey, I myself have just completed Time Bandits as part of my 1980’s Fantasy Project.
Now you don’t need me to go on and on about how unique and visionary Terry Gilliam is and how great Time Bandits is. You’ve already heard a million people say things like that. For my part, I’ll say yes, he is a visionary, but he doesn’t always have it going on in the story structure department (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) or the clarity department.
Time Bandits, like most Terry Gilliam films, is really fun if you’re in the right mood. What that mood is can be hard to describe, but if you’re not in that mood, you’re going to get bored and turn it off. The basic story is about a little kid who gets involved with some dwarves who stole God’s map of the space-time continuum so they can try to rob history blind.
Hands down, the best line in the movie is after God shows up (looking and acting like the CEO of an R&D company) and Kevin asks him:
Kevin: Why do we have to have evil?
[Wanders off without answering, then pops back in.]
I think it’s something to do with free will.
Now that you have some idea of how Time Bandits goes, I want to talk to you about David Warner.
David Warner is a guy whose name you probably do not know, but whom you’ve definitely seen and heard in countless movies and TV shows. I don’t understand how this happens to some people. They play important roles in lots of big movies and shows, and yet nobody knows who they are.
Warner plays the lead villain in Time Bandits and, as usual, seeing him just made me mad that people don’t know who he is. I mean, Time Bandits is a really famous film. It’s one of the most beloved films of one of the most famous directors on earth, and David Warner was the one and only lead villain, the lord of all evil. But you don’t know who he is.
I’ve been noticing David Warner ever since he popped up in an episode of Babylon 5 back in the 90’s. That’s one of my favorite shows of all time, and Warner’s performance as Aldous, the last of an order of monks looking for the Holy Grail in space, stuck with me. Since then, I’ve been seeing him everywhere.
Let me help you out with this. You know Chancellor Gorkon from Star Trek VI, the best of the original cast Star Trek movies (IMO). The Klingon High Chancellor who wants peace with the Federation and whose death is the catalyst for the entire rest of the movie? That was David Warner.
Not a fan of Time Bandits, Babylon 5 or Star Trek? How about Tron? David Warner’s in that too, as three different characters. He’s Ed Dillinger, the jerk who plagiarizes Flynn’s work and becomes the Senior Executive.
He’s also Sark, the villainous henchman to the Master Control program.
He also voiced the Master Control program itself.
Yeah, that’s right. A major landmark sci-fi film and David Warner plays ALL THE BAD GUYS. And you don’t know who he is.
What about cartoons? You like cartoons? How about Batman: The Animated Series, which turned the character of Ra’s al Ghul from a random Batman villain nobody knew about into one of his greatest enemies, who would one day feature in Batman Begins. You know who voiced Ra’s al Ghul in that show, and all the spinoffs of it? Of course you don’t, because you don’t know who David Warner is, do you? Jerk.
You like British TV, you say? That usually means you watch Doctor Who. Did you see the animated miniseries Doctor Who: Dreamland from 2009? Remember Lord Azlock? David Warner.
Speaking of Doctor Who, he’ll be in a live action episode of that next season. And since you’re so into the BBC, I assume you’re aware of the excellent miniseries adaption of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather? Remind me again, who played Lord Downey, the head of the assassin’s guild, who sends Mr. Teatime off on his quest to kill the Hogfather? Oh, some guy you’ve never heard of? Does this look like him?
What about Wallander, Kenneth Branagh’s recent BBC series adapted from some Swedish detective novels? If you’re a fan of BBC or Kenneth Branagh, you’ve probably watched that, right? Remember Povel, the hero’s father?
Did you see that awful Planet of the Apes movie Tim Burton did back in 2001? Remember the character Sandar?
You like those Horatio Hornblower shows? Check out Captain Sawyer here:
Scream 2? Played the drama teacher:
James Cameron’s Titanic? One of the highest-grossing films of all time? Lead villain’s bodyguard and sidekick.
Jor-El on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
I could go on and on here, but the bottom line is, you should all be ashamed of yourselves for not showering David Warner with praise at all times. Poor bastard’s the only guy on earth who can play major roles in every science fiction franchise, plus a bunch of other stuff, and still be a complete unknown. He should be a major celebrity, but instead he’s lucky if someone says “Hey, what else has that guy been in?”
Poor, poor David Warner