Film #190: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974)

holygrail4directors: Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones
language: English
length: 86 minutes
watched on: 11 June 2016

It’s easily the world’s most overquoted movie, except perhaps its sequel, but I realized recently that I hadn’t watched this in about six or seven years, and I felt like giving it another go – the only reason I’m including it on here today is that the last time is before I started this blog, so I’m trying to follow like, a pattern or something.

I’ve watched it enough times, including the special features, to notice all the areas where they cut corners that weren’t meant to be noticed, as well as the ones that were signposted and danced around – such as the fact that almost all the castles in the movie are the same (I’ve always gotten deja vu with at least one of the scenes, which looks the same as before).

But I’ve also seen it enough times that this viewing didn’t really add anything to it. The only thing is in the scene with the black knight, there are some sound effects that were later used in the game Civilization II, and I only just had the rather obvious revelation that their use in Civ II was probably a reference to Monty Python – not just that they were part of some sound effect bank, like that screaming sound that’s been used in Hollywood pretty much since the introduction of sound in movies.

I also came to the conclusion that Holy Grail is the quintessential road trip movie, just set in medieval times – it’s basically composed of single scenes in which the main characters meet another in a string of characters, monsters, baddies and obstacles. Most are somewhat non-sequitur. But that’s not such a logical leap, nor a bad idea. It allows the group to keep a sort of sketch structure like they’d done on TV, but the story connection throughout keeps it fresher. Life of Brian more effectively tied a single story together without the need for a road trip structure, though. The Meaning of Life, decidedly not my favourite, does away with this totally and is back to straight-up sketches.

Anyway, I’m preaching to the choir here. I’d like to hear from someone who doesn’t like it, actually. I have my reservations – I intensely dislike that it’s so quoted all the time, as I lament the perceived loss of originality in comedy, for example. But I also think it’s still funny, has stood the test of time, and that the situations are still applicable to the modern day – and that’s worrying because it means nothing’s changed since the 60s and 70s.


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