Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Monty Python and the Holy Grail


I’d been reading The Palin Diaries, 1969-79, what I hope is just the first volume of Michael Palin’s 40 years of daily writing, so I’d learned a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff about this movie and Life of Brian. I wanted to see if it was still as funny as the first time through. It was. It was made on a tiny budget, before Monty Python made it really, really big in America. The ending is a bit of a disappointment, but other than that it grabs you from the first time King Arthur comes riding into view on an invisible horse, his servant hopping along behind him clapping coconut shells together to imitate hoofbeats. Insane!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) (Second review) I don’t know what you can say about this movie that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll try. I don’t know when Monty Python began showing on PBS. I was living in Eugene, Oregon, and I can’t recall if I saw some of the episodes first, or if this movie brought me to Monty Python on TV. But whatever the sequence was, this thing just blew me away, as it did so many other people. Python had made one previous movie, And Now For Something Completely Different, but it was just a re-filming of some of their more popular sketches. They only did three movies with a plot and all original material: this one, Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life (okay, no plot, but it was all new). So, five theatrical movies, four years of a TV series … and then endless recycling of a lot of the old material in live shows, and things as diverse as Spamalot. Nobody seems to object, least of all me. But what an influence those five British college boys and one American animator have had on humour! There’s a whole new word, pythonesque, to describe their brand of insanity. Right from the opening frames of this movie they had me rolling in the aisles with the crazy Swedish subtitles, and the sacking of the people in charge of the credits, and then the sacking of those who sacked those who were sacked. Then Arthur comes over the hill riding an invisible horse, accompanied by his squire clopping coconut shells together. And the Frenchmen in the castle hurling insults and livestock. Scene after scene after scene was utterly brilliant, and it all still holds up today.