The finest movie ever made about swallow flight dynamics!
May 31, 2009
You know, I would've loved to have been in the audience when Monty Python and the Holy Grail was first shown. I'm picturing a fair amount of laughter, but also quite a bit of confusion and critics saying, "What the hell did I just see?" That was certainly the case when Roger Ebert reviewed the first Monty Python movie, And Now For Something Completely Different. He seemed very interested in the audience reaction during his review, and I imagine the audience reaction during the first screenings for this film would've been similar.
Of course, by the time Monty Python and the Holy Grail came out in 1976, the original series had been airing on PBS for a couple years, so people were more familiar with the show. But still. Just imagine what reactions must've been like for those poor souls who went into this movie never having seen the TV program.
I don't need to tell most of you about the plot to this film. King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table go off to find the Holy Grail. Most of the major knights from the stories are here, though Guinevere and Merlin are strangely absent (though there is an enchanter named Tim). The film also adds the rather cowardly Sir Robin and the aptly-named Sir Not Appearing in this Film.
The movie itself is a fascinating hodge-podge of hilarity. You get to see several film genres, including swashbucklers, fantasy, epics and musicals, all get joyfully skewered. One cost-saving move, using coconuts banged together to simulate the sound of horses, since they couldn't actually afford horses, is an inspired notion. Despite that, much of the film shows the time period in a more realistic fashion than most other movies. There's lots of dirt and lots of mud and people know the king is the king because "He hasn't got [...] all over him."
Everyone who has seen the movie has their favorite moments. For me it's probably a toss up between the "Spamalot" song, the Holy Hand Grenade, and the "Help, help! I'm being repressed!" scene. The events at Castle Anthrax is a close follow-up, but really the whole movie works and works well. There's not a bad moment in the film, not a joke that falls flat.
This movie, like all great films, has left behind a huge legacy, though not in the way some might think. Often times it's a legacy that filmmakers try to avoid. For example, in the the commentary on The Lord of the Rings films you will frequently hear Peter Jackson somewhat humoursly lament how hard they tried to avoid giving their movies a Holy Grail feeling. Of course the movie also lead to the hit Broadway musical, Spamalot, which I've never seen, but heard great things about.
This movie isn't for everyone, of course. There's always a few humourless louts out there who won't enjoy it. Us normal folk know better, however, and we can enjoy it for the wonderful, creative, hilarious film it is!
-This review pertains to the Monty Python and the Holy Grail 2-disc Special Edition DVD- In 1974 the bad boys of British comedy decided to create a full-length motion picture, which was destined for greatness (or at least mediocrity disguised as greatness). Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a totally distasteful classic of almost epic proportions. The film stars John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry … more
Of all the films and television programs produced by airborne members of the Flying Circus, I consider this to be their greatest achievement. Co-authored and then co-directed Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones (two rather silly people indeed), this film makes at least some effort to recreate a distant period in history and from a somewhat 20th century perspective. Apparently available funds were limited because Gilliam and Junes could not afford to rent horses and thus were forced to simulate them with … more
This movie is funny, it has so many funny lines, that you can taunt your enemies for years to come, using lines from THe Holy Grail. Monty Python may be a bit of a refined humour, that has it's fans and the non-fans who just don't like it. That's fine, this was my second Python movie ( after Eric the Viking) and I fell deeply for this humor. THe Python Boys take on so many different roles that they themselves said they loose track of who's who. The speicla edition DVD has behind scenes … more
For those who don't "get" the humor in this movie, it may seem like a 90 minute detour into one of the outer circles of hell. Actors playing multiple roles, idiots smacking coconut shells together to make horse-sounds, men playing most of the female roles, modern-day police tracking medieval knights, the use of the word "nee" to a huge extent and lots of blood gouting from gory wounds. For those people, I can only have pity.Because to love HOLY GRAIL is to establish a life-long friendship. I've … more
Could this be the funniest movie ever made? By any rational measure of comedy, this medieval romp from the Monty Python troupe certainly belongs on the short list of candidates. According to Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide, it's "recommended for fans only," but we say hogwash to that--you could be a complete newcomer to the Python phenomenon and still find this send-up of the Arthurian legend to be wet-your-pants hilarious. It's basically a series of sketches woven together as King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail, with Graham Chapman as the King, Terry Gilliam as his simpleton sidekick Patsy, and the rest of the Python gang filling out a variety of outrageous roles. The comedy highlights are too numerous to mention, but once you've seen Arthur's outrageously bloody encounter with the ominous Black Knight (John Cleese), you'll know that nothing's sacred in the Python school of comedy. From holy hand grenades to killer bunnies to the absurdity of the three-headed knights who say "Ni--!," this is the kind of movie that will strike you as fantastically funny or just plain silly, but why stop there? It's all over the map, and the pace lags a bit here and there, but for every throwaway gag the Pythons have invented, there's a bit of subtle business or grand-scale insanity that's utterly inspired. The sum of this madness is a movie that's beloved by anyone with a pulse and an irreverent sense of humor. If...