Thursday, 9 August 2012

Monty Python and The Holy Grail - Review

monty python and the holy grail poster 11

Monty Python and The Holy Grail was the Python's second film. The first was And Now For Something Completely Different  although the Python's didn't find this to be a very satisfactory movie as it was basically just a "best of" compilation of all their best sketches from the first two series of Monty Python's  Flying Circus. They didn't find this a very satisfactory movie so they decided to come up with something a bit more unique and definite.

Thus, The Holy Grail was born. The film is essentially another movie full of back-to-back sketches but this time there's and overriding narrative i.e to obtain the holy grail. It's a clever technique and gives the movie a sense of continuity and the feel that this is a story being told rather than just being a random higgledy-piggledy collection of sketches with no connection to them.

And it's damn funny in telling that story too. There are so many memorable and hilarious scenes in this film and they come with such skill and speed that there'll be very few moments in which you're sitting there stony-faced waiting for a laugh. Some of my personal favourites are the French people in the castle (which has me smiling thinking about it), The Black Knight scene (who doesn't love that scene?) and their meeting with the Killer Rabbit.

The production of this film was not without it's troubles. The two directors of this film (Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones) had vastly different directing styles with Gilliam feeling that Jones would undermine the scenes with conventional camera shots and Jones getting annoyed with how much of a perfectionist he was. Also by this time Graham Chapman alcoholism was in full swing in which on some occasions Chapman couldn't remember his lines.  But these behind the scenes problems show no signs in the film.

The star of the show for me really is Graham Chapman. The rest of the Python's are as good as they always are, but Chapman just nips the post for me. No one does upper-class outrage quite like Chapman did. Leading in the role as King Arthur he performs his classic role as the pompous twit that is repeatedly bamboozled and confused by the insane events surrounding him.

The film also look visually stunning. The northern Scottish moors where the movie was filmed are ideal for Arthurian Britain. From the moment King Arthur arrives on screen to the ending with the fantatsic looking boat the whole film's setting and direction is wonderfully done.

In short, a very silly film full of lots of silly people doing lots of silly things. That's pretty much the bare essence of all the Python's fantastic work. The second of their films is as funnier and as clever as it gets.  

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