(Python Diary) Which Python is Which Time Bandit

Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin teamed up on "Time Bandits" way back in 1980, and it’s definitely worth a gander. I hadn’t seen it since I was a child, and I’ve watched it twice now and quite enjoyed it, actually — though, as a child, I really hated the ending. It’s a rare treasure — a movie where the special effects mostly age well.

If you don’t know, in the film there are 6 dwarves, servants of the Supreme Being, and they have stolen His map of holes between different times and places and are out to become "international criminals" and get rich by jumping around in time to steal money. Along the way, they run into the main character of the piece, a little boy named Kevin, and have quite a few adventures together.

Well, in Michael Palin’s dairies, not long after the film has opened, he goes to dinner with someone and they discuss at length which dwarf represents which Python. Michael Palin denies completely any intention to mimic the Pythons, and I believe he is being honest, but he soon warms to the game.

A list is presented in the diary, but the most important and revealing one is this: Randall is John Cleese. This, I think, is best exemplified by this exchange:

Randall (to one of the dwarfs who has just questioned his authority): "Do you want to be leader?"
Dwarf: "No, we agreed no leader."
Randall: "Right, so do what I say."

This is representative of how Python operated, especially in the early days of the first two seasons. They had no leader, that was their official position. But Cleese stepped in constantly, often with a firm hand or a stick, to herd them all in the direction he wanted.

Whether intentional or not, I think that there is more truth in the Time Bandits to Python comparison than Palin may have intended.

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