Monty Python And The Holy Grail

Monty Python And The Holy Grail

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The members of Monty Python have become so well-known and successful over the last 30-odd years that it is hard to believe there was a time they didn't command pay cheques with more noughts than most of us can ever expect to see, or have financial backers queuing up to support their projects. So, it is quite refreshing to see Monty Python and The Holy Grail and remember from what small - but very funny - beginnings they came.

There can be few movies which students quote from more, with learning huge chunks of the script seemingly a rite of passage for generations. However, on sitting down to watch this for the first time in years it is amazing how funny and surprisingly fresh it still is.

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Typically for the Pythons, this film relies on a fairly loose premise - the search for the Holy Grail (the cup or platter used by Christ at the Last Supper) - to string together a series of sketches, some of which are more successful than others. Graham Chapman takes the "straight man" role of Arthur, maintaining a quiet dignity while John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam horse around in his wake. Some of the scenes, such as an exchange between Arthur and a group of French knights who then fling animals at him, and John Cleese's encounter with the "Knights who say 'Ni'" are hilarious. Others, such as Palin's sub-Benny Hill escapades in Castle Anthrax, where he is set-upon by a gaggle of siren-types, have dated badly. Hardcore fans should also watch out for the 24 seconds of added footage - cut from the original, but restored here.

Overall, this is a silly romp through some of the best legends medieval Britain has to offer, intercut with some fabulously surreal animation from Gilliam, featuring one of the most critically debated endings of any film ever - personally, I'm not fond of it, but plenty of people are.

It is a testimony to Jones and, particularly, Gilliam's directorial vision that this film looks much more expensive than the £229,000 it cost to film, and while it slows up in the final quarter, never quite maintaining the comedic pace it sets for itself in the early part, as the trailer says, "If you are an intellectual midget and you like giggling, you could do worse than watch this".

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2002
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Monty Python And The Holy Grail packshot
King Arthur and his Knights go on a much-interrupted and humorous search for the Holy Grail.
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Director: Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam

Writer: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin.

Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Neil Innes, Carol Cleveland, Connie Booth, Iain Banks

Year: 1975

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

Bradford 2008

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