33. Monty Python & the Holy Grail
Funded by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon sales Monty Python decided that their 2nd film should be more traditional and completely original as opposed to their first feature length film …And now for something completely different which was just a collection of their funniest skits from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. What they ended up creating is one of the most-praised and well-loved comedies of all time.
Monty Python & the Holy Grail is loosely based on the legend of King Arthur. While Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his assistant Patsy (Terry Gilliam) search for recruits for his Knights of the Round Table; they are visited by God (an animated photograph of 19th century cricket player W.G. Grace) who gives them the mission to find the Holy Grail. They are led to a castle controlled by the French they are taunted and defeated. Arthur decides the best plan is to split up.
Suddenly the 4th wall is broken as a modern-day historian begins to explain the legend of King Arthur, his speech is cut short though when he is killed by a knight on horseback which triggers a police investigation.
Each Knight goes on their own bizarre (and unsuccessful) journey. Arthur and Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones) encounter the knights who say Ni. Sir Robin (Eric Idle) cowardly runs away from a three-headed giant. Else where Sir Lancealot (John Cleese) murders an entire wedding party. Finally Sir Galahad (Michael Palin) finds Castle Anthrax where he’s greeted by permiscious women who want to please him sexually until he is “saved” by Sir Lancealot.
The Knights reunite and travel to find Tim the Enchanter (after a tip from the Old man from scene 24) who points them to the caves where on the walls are written the Grails’ location. To enter the cave they must fight the terrible Rabbit of Caerbannog using the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Once entering the cave they are attacked by the Legendary Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrggggh, they run from him only escaping death when the Black beast’s animator has a fatal heart attack.
Leaving the cave the find their last Peril the Bridge of Death. One can only cross if they answer the bridge keepers three questions. Lancelot crosses the bridge but is separated from the rest (he ends up getting arrested by the police for the murder of the historian). Sir Robin and Sir Galahad fail the test of the bridge and die. Arthur and Bedevere manages to outsmart the bridge keeper and cross safely only to find the Grails castle to have already been taken over by the French. They gather a large army to attack the castle but are stopped the police arrive, arrest Arthur & Bedevere and put an end to the filming of the movie.
My first experience with Holy grail and well… Monty Python in general was during junior high. I was just flipping through the channels and saw a bunny rabbit jumping up and bit off a knight’s head. Needless to say I had to watch the rest of the movie and between seeing a poorly animated monster chasing bizarre animated knights and then a bridge-keeper who wouldn’t let you cross the bridge unless you answered three questions and suddenly the movie ends with a bizarre police raid I couldn’t help but feel like I needed to see this from start to finish.
I was pulled in completely to the extremely bizarre moments of it that have no become infamous moments of cinema history. The multiple opening credit sequences, the coconaut discussion, the Bring out Your Dead gag and countless other classic scenes. I didn’t have many friends in high school (as I’m fairly certain I’ve already said before in this blog) but the few people I did hang out with I quickly introduced the movie to. We became obsessed with the film and started quoting it constantly.
I think there are two very distinctly different people in high school. There were the cool kids who became obsessed with movies like Dumb & Dumber but then there were kids who became the Monty Python fans who admittedly were slightly pretencious. We thought that we discovered a comedy that no one else understood, much like we felt misunderstood. Monty Python was one of the major reasons I felt like I didn’t have to be ashamed of who I was anymore.
My friends and I started to really be ourselves and stopped caring about how the rest of school saw us. I remember one time my friend Dan brought in two hallowed out coconauts to school. As each one of us went from class to class he’d stand behind us clapping the coconauts while we pretended to ride an invisible horse.
The influence of this film (and Python’s humor in general) is still alive today with groups like Lonely Island but also influenced famous sketch comedy groups like Kids in the hall, the State and Mr. Show.