Classic Movie Review: Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Comedy


King Arthur (Graham Chapman) sees God in a vision.  God instructs him to find the Holy Grail.  Arthur faces the Black Knight (John Cleese) and emerges victorious.  Arthur then asks the French to help him with his quest, but is viciously taunted, and driven away.  Arthur then gathers brave knights to assist him on his quest.  Galahad the Pure (Michael Palin) thinks he sees the Grail in a castle, but instead the castle is filled with virgins, who are all too happy to see Galahad.  Galahad is ‘saved’ from his fate, by an overzealous Lancelot. (John Cleese)  Brave Sir Robin (Eric Idle) whose reputation precedes him, runs into a knight who is not so easily vanquished, and retreats quickly with his reputation and his tail between his legs.  The ever-ready to be a hero Lancelot receives a note for help, and is off to the rescue, but the person to be rescued is not who Lancelot believes needs saving.  Led by King Arthur, the gallant band of knights face many other trials in their quest to find the Holy Grail, but do they have to resort to their most devastating weapon to defeat their deadliest adversary?  Do they ever find the Holy Grail?

This movie takes the famous tale from the Middle Ages, and twists it as only the legendary British comedy troupe, Monty Python can do it, there are so many famous scenes and lines that I will not reveal all of them to those of you who have never seen it.  Suffice to say, literally, it’s hilariously funny from the opening credits.  It’s a comedy on steroids, it’s  got irreverent humor but it’s also intelligent humor, there is even a line that echoes Shakespeare.  And it’s smart enough to use actual elements from the mythology of the original tales of King Arthur and the Grail story. There are songs and Gregorian chants, and as if that’s not enough, there is world-class animation by Terry Gilliam.  There is one scene that might be too intense for younger viewers, so parents don’t let younger kids watch.

The acting is superb, all the Pythons play multiple roles.  Graham Chapman is as close to a straight man as there is in this movie.  He is splendid as King Arthur.  John Cleese is the standout here, playing the Black Knight, Lancelot,  The Taunting French Knight.  But Monty Python is truly an ensemble and everyone is extremely funny in their many roles.  The writing, done by the Pythons, is just as stellar as the acting. Not many people can write a movie this funny, never mind act in one, the Pythons do both exceedingly well.

Monty Python and The Holy Grail.  Their Comedy Cup Runneth Over.


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