Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Sony Pictures, PG)

HolyGrailMonty Python offered a view of the world that was not based on irony, hipness, or even smoldering resentment; they simply were out to destroy society (mostly British society) where it stood.



I grew up in the time of three networks and one public television station. I give full credit for my warped imagination to the wonders of the BBC shows that appeared on WMHT, our local PBS station: The Goodies, No Honestly, and, certainly responsible for many outlandish thoughts, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Sure, I spent time with The Wild Wild West, The Three Stooges, I Spy, and Get Smart, but Monty Python offered a view of the world that was not based on irony, hipness, or even smoldering resentment; they simply were out to destroy society (mostly British society) where it stood. And they succeeded. Everyone and every institution was fair game and, as a pre-teen going on middle age, I loved every damn second of it. Funny voices, fart jokes, men dressed as women, dead parrots, gay lumberjacks, naked people, glorified poorly played sexual immorality, a wicked disrespect for the church (even when elevating them to the level of action hero), all of it infused with Terry Gilliam’s brilliant animation. I couldn’t go wrong and my parents, having already suffered through four older rebellious boys, were content to let me have these babysitters who were teaching me some lessons in how to be different. (Come on, what 10-year-old knew who Proust was? See the “All-England Summarizing Proust Competition” episode.) 

In 1974, the Python’s made their first film (an earlier movie had featured re-filmed scenes from the TV series), Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and I had to see it. Looking back, I always marvel that my parents took me to sit in an audience of teens and twenty-somethings to watch a movie that was probably a few years ahead of my 11-year-old mind. (I also distinctly remember the theater being so crowded that my dad—a very proper man in his late 50s—had to sit up front while my Mom and I found a seat together less close to the screen.) It was the TV show writ large, and its subject of Arthurian legend slaughtered with a humor that saw nothing as sacred. I could spend valuable cyperspace rattling off scenes, but most everyone has some connection with it, especially in this age of YouTube. To this day, if someone says “it’s just a flesh wound” or “run away,” homage is being paid to this endlessly imaginative move. It has changed our view on damsels in distress, shrubbery, and the bravery of one Sir Robin.

This gem of modern cinema has come out in various forms over the years (somewhere a VHS is rotting away), but now the folks at Sony are busting out the Blu-ray edition and it couldn’t be any more loaded with extras. Besides the actual film, here are the many other features:

  • Three Mindless Sing-Alongs
  • BBC Film Night
  • How To Use Your Coconuts (An Educational Film)
  • Japanese Version
  • Monty Python And The Holy Grail In Lego!
  • Join Michael Palin and Terry Jones in their Special Documentary: The Quest
  • For the Holy Grail Locations
  • Enlightening Commentaries by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, Plus General
  • Complaints and Back-Biting by John Cleese, Eric Idle & Michael Palin
  • Henry 4th
  • Meanwhile, King Arthur & Sir Belvedere…
  • Elephant & Castle
  • Run Away!
  • The Tale of Sir Robin
  • The Tale of Sir Lancelot
  • Terry Gilliam Introduces His Lost Animation Reel
  • Cast Directory Photo Gallery
  • Terry Jones Introduces the Outtakes

Very few films deserve to take up the next few months of your life, but I would suggest you revisit The Holy Grail—or, for all you precocious 11-year-olds out there, get in to warping your life now.  You will thank me in 37 short years. | Jim Dunn

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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