Endlessly quotable and still aging well forty years on, the Monty Python crew’s first foray into proper film stands as both a great introduction to their work and (probably) their masterpiece.
Not all too different from the short string of loosely tied-together sketches that comprised their Flying Circus television series, Holy Grail exists as a giant string of slightly more tied-together sketches. The film follows King and chief Straight Man Arthur (Graham Chapman), his coconut-wielding squire (Terry Gilliam), and a whole slew of knights (the rest of the Pythons) as they scour 10th century England for the Holy Grail. While 10th century anywhere was presumably not too pleasant, the Python’s England is brimming with absurd characters (mostly played by various Pythons) just waiting to be asked for directions. The Knights Who Say Ni, Tim the Sorcerer, Roger the Shrubber… the list reads like a who’s who of comedic characters, really. Which, of course, it is.
Accompanying the hilariously surreal realm featured in the film are the also hilariously surreal animations of Gilliam, which frequently punctuate the film’s acts. Originally hired as an animator for the Pythons before the group realized that his terrible acting abilities were being squandered behind a desk, Gilliam nonetheless provides some great artwork here. His trademark hodge-podge collage style provides both humor and a convenient way to get around having a tiny budget.
Anyway, you probably spent the better part of 6th grade attempting to recreate the Black Knight scene, so you probably don’t need much convincing to attend Coolidge Corner’s screening of this classic. So get on with it!
Monty Python & The Holy Grail
dir. Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
Part of the ongoing series: Big Screen Classics