Friday, February 5, 2010

#381: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Directors: Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones
Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle ...

King Arthur is traveling across England with his squire Patsy to find the bravest of the brave to become the Knights of the Round Table, and to seek the Holy Grail at the behest of God Himself. They encounter many obstacles, including the Knights who say Ni, the enchanter named Tim, and the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. Along the way, they also kill a historian who was chronicling the tale of King Arthur, prompting an investigation by the British police to stop these madmen in a troupe called "Monty Python" who are acting as Arthurian figures.

You may have all been wondering why there was such a huge gap since my last post. It was because of this movie. How do you write about this film!? It's damn near impossible. I actually watched it well before it was "due" if I stuck with the daily movie. I suppose I'll just have to do my best and get on with the list.

One of the most effective gags in the film that makes it stand out in comparison to a majority of comedies to this day is its excessive use of "breaking the fourth wall", which is to say that the actors break the imaginary barrier between the show and the audience. For example, while all the knights stand in awe of the sight of Camelot, Patsy remarks that "it's only a model."

The evident low budget of the film could have been a huge setback to the film, but in the end enhanced it thanks to the production team's decision to poke fun at their own work. Rather than being taken seriously whatsoever, the team clearly had a fantastic time acting absolutely ridiculous.

And, a bit o' trivia before the actual trivia section. It seems that their is quite the rift in demographic appeal when comparing the United Kingdom to the United States in terms of Monty Python fandom. While the United Kingdom widely prefers the later Life of Brian, the United States has always ranked Holy Grail as the better of the two feature-length Monty Python films. I have to admit that I can be classified as an ignorant American, having never seen The Life of Brian. No worries - that'll be rectified within the next 200 films I see.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • Scenes such as Arthur approaching the first castle and Lancelot's running dash to Swamp Castle were filmed on Hampstead Heath, a London park beside one of the city's busiest road junctions.
  • Some major scenes scripted, but never filmed: - additional "Knights who say Ni!" scene, they intend to call themselves "the Knights of Nicky-Nicky" - additional police detective scenes - several scenes where Arthur and the knights meet "King Brian, the Wild". - After the Bridgekeeper, they come upon the Boatkeeper. "He who would cross the Sea of Fate Must answer me these questions twenty-eight!" - Arthur and his knights end up finding the Holy Grail at Harrods' department store
  • Funds earned by Pink Floyd's album "The Dark Side of the Moon" went towards funding The Holy Grail. The band were such fans of the show they would halt recording sessions just to watch "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (1969).
  • "God" is in fact a photograph of the famous 19th-century English cricketer W.G. Grace.
  • The airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is roughly 11 meters per second, or 24 miles per hour, beating its wings 7-9 times per second rather than 43. And a 5 ounce bird cannot carry a one pound coconut.


  1. what happened to your blog?! I am saddened by the lack of updates. It's almost like you have a job or something :P

  2. I knooow! It's been on my mind. It's a combination of being semi-busy and the fact that I really don't feel like watching some films that I've already seen, haha. Plus, the writing part of the blog is way more boring than watching movies.