- Gareth Crook
Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975) - 9/10
I’ve not watched any Python in years and I’m going all in. This is the first of three reviews that will follow, but I’m starting with The Holy Grail so that I can watch with Kermode & Mayo’s extra take commentary. That was the idea at least until I realised that I was better off watching the film first, then just listening to their insight later. Python you see is just too brilliant to be disturbed. Made a on budget (which I think must’ve mostly gone on smoke machines), it still looks incredibly good and of course there’s plenty of comedic tricks that are wonderfully lent in to. Who needs a horse, when you’ve got coconuts. Of course, it’s a little apt watching this now. At a point when a new king is thrust upon us, Arthur (Graham Chapman) is on a quest to enforce his power on a people who don’t really give a shit, by finding The Holy Grail. That sounds lofty doesn’t it, but really this is what Python do best, sketches. Just here they’re stitched together a touch more coherently. Perhaps one of the best comes in the opening 20 minutes with John Cleese as The Black Knight. It’s wonderfully silly as he loses limb after limb before declaring a draw, but this is its strength, solid visually amusing comic acting, laced with simple deadpan jokes. Before long, thanks to a cut away to some page turning on a dodgy looking manuscript with some QE narration, Arthur has his knights assembled and off they go on their pretend horses to Camelot, where songs with lyrics that don’t quite fit are sung and therefore they choose not to bother. Just as well really, as Gilliam’s animated god appears in the sky, setting them the task to find the grail to inspire all in these dark times. Honestly despite the cast being fantastic, it’s always Cleese that gets me in this film. His French Guard is pure genius and has there ever been a better put down than “I fart in your general direction, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries”. After the Trojan Rabbit project fails to get the knights into the French occupied castle. The knights split up and embark on starring role sequences. I suppose they’ve just too many ideas to try shoehorn into the main narrative, but these subplots do give us annoying minstrel commentators, a castle full of frisky fourth wall breaking maidens, a musical loving reluctant arrow firing groom (guarded by two nit-wits, one hiccuping, which is apparently John Cleese’s favourite scene) and of course the infamous Knights who say “Ni”! I promise, if you’ve not yet seen The Holy Grail, this does actually make sense. As does Cleese when he’s back as Tim the Enchanter, who’s a fire throwing horny version of Billy Connelly. How do you end a film like this? Well I’m not going to spoil it, but let’s just say that Python are masters of this as well as pretty much everything else.