Monty Python and the Holy Grail Review
By James Brundage
Python is... and always has been... laugh out loud funny. But this is the kind of thing that everyone says. I am at a sort of a quandary as to what to write to someone who has never seen Python. Part of the job is to attempt to describe a movie to someone who has never heard of it or seen it, and with Python films this is probably the hardest part of the job. One of the Python movies, And Now For Something Completely Different, basically expresses the essence of their entire career in a single phrase. Python is completely different. Even years later, when people have tried to be Pythonesque, Python is still something completely different.
They are so different that only one film has accomplished the kind of humor since, and that is Being John Malkovich. BJM, however, has a tragic side to it that makes it completely different from Python films. So, in the end, Python is still completely different.
I can't even say to expect the unexpected. Why? Because even the unexpected is too normal for what Python is. Python is simply one of life's great foods... you have to taste it for yourself.
Fans of the film (and we know you are legion) should run -- don't walk -- to your video store (or click the link at right ;) for the Special Edition DVD of Holy Grail. This two-disc set is insanely full of extras to an awe-inspiring degree. The primary disc features the original film (with, as promised, 24 extra seconds of footage), various subtitle options, and two commentary tracks that together feature all of the surviving Python troupe members talking about the film and the history of the group as a whole. For the full experience, turn on the "killer rabbit" feature (which lets you go off on tangents during the film, much like The Matrix DVD), the original screenplay subtitling, and flip between the two commentaries. Biggest surprise: virtually none of this was ad-libbed. Gilliam is almost embarrassed about how juvenile the movie is -- which makes it all the more fun.
Disc two features all the extra, goofy stuff -- a 45-minute retrospective documentary that showcases the locations used, Japanese-language clips, a Lego version of the "Knights of the Round Table" song, and a whole lot of much, much sillier tidbits.
The new "extraordinarily deluxe edition" includes three discs, comprising all of the prior extras plus a medley from the Broadway play Spamalot, trivia and games, plus a third disc containing the soundtrack to the film.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 23rd May 1975
Box Office Worldwide: $5M
Distributed by: Almi Cinema 5
Production compaines: Python (Monty) Pictures Limited, Michael White Productions, National Film Trustee Company, Twickenham Film Studios
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 66 Rotten: 2
Cast & Crew
Starring: Graham Chapman as King Arthur / Voice of God / Middle Head / Hiccoughing Guard, John Cleese as Second Swallow-Savvy Guard / The Black Knight / Peasant 3 / Sir Lancelot the Brave / Taunting French Guard / Tim the Enchanter, Eric Idle as Dead Collector / Peasant 1 / Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Launcelot / First Swamp Castle Guard / Concorde / Roger the Shrubber / Brother Maynard, Michael Palin as First Swallow-Savvy Guard / Dennis / Peasant 2 / Right Head / Sir Galahad the Pure / Narrator / King of Swamp Castle / Brother Maynard's Brother / Leader of The Knights Who Say NI!, Terry Gilliam as Patsy / Green Knight / Old Man from Scene 24 (Bridgekeeper) / Sir Bors / Animator / Gorrilla Hand, Terry Jones as Dennis's Mother / Sir Bedevere / Left Head / Prince Herbert / Cartoon Scribe (voice), Connie Booth as The Witch, Carol Cleveland as Zoot / Dingo, Neil Innes as First Monk / Singing Minstrel / Page Crushed by the Rabbit / Peasant #4, Bee Duffell as Old Crone, John Young as Dead Body / Historian Frank, Rita Davies as Historian's Wife, Avril Stewart as Dr. Piglet, Sally Kinghorn as Dr. Winston, Mark Zycon as Prisoner, Julian Doyle as Police Sergeant