Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is like a Dungeons & Dragons session where the participants refuse to take it seriously, and the Dungeon Master is becoming increasingly vexed. It’s important to note that while this is not my comparison, it’s simply one that I’ve come across on occasion, it is the most fitting analogy there is. Our plot is the oft-told tale of King Arthur and his knights of the round table, this time in search of the famed Holy Grail. Of all the tales of Camelot you have heard, I guarantee you that none of them are quite like this.

The production of The Holy Grail is as famous as the film itself, and it’s well documented. The budget wasn’t large enough to accommodate the final battle so it was promptly cut, it also meant that they could not use real horses. They could only afford one castle to film in, so that castle was redecorated several times to serve as several different locations. This kind of setback may hurt some films, but this shoe-string budget was something the Monty Python crew was accustomed to and would lead to some of Holy Grail‘s finest moments. Both the films spectacularly absurd ending, and the horse coconuts are, I believe, some of cinemas finest gags. The cast is comprised of the six Pythons (Chapman, Idle, Gilliam, Jones, Cleese and Palin) and their film crew, giving the film the same feel as a school play. In a rare turn of events, this led to the female characters being played by women instead of the Pythons in drag. Holy Grail would be the only time this occurred.

The humour of this picture could only have come from Monty Python. It is surreal and yet it encompasses every form of joke known to mankind. There are witty one liners, slow burning punchlines, visual gags, and expectation subversion. These are jokes that require a hint of thought, unlike the crass humour and swearing in some of today’s “Comedies”. Quite simply put, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a masterclass in comedy.

The sets, effects and score are spectacular and come with no shortage of effort. They really go all in on the immersion by filming on location whenever possible. The scenes are grimey and, in some cases, packed with copious amounts of mud. Supposedly, Michael Palin was not a fan of this, and after filming many scenes in it, entered a full blown rant. The matte paintings used for backgrounds are excellently done, and the score has a grand medieval feel to it. I could go on at length about how wonderful this film is, but I wont.

Until Next Time…

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