#93: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

When and how did I watch this?

October 11th, 2016 on DVD.

Had I seen this film already?

Yes, but perhaps 20 years ago. My friends at school used to recite lines constantly, so much of this film remained memorable.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Almost all of the punchlines were intact in my mind.  I remembered the bizarre confrontation with the Frenchman in the overly tall castle, the three questions at the bridge, the horrific rabbit and their means of dispatching it, and so forth.  The order of the film, however, was foggy.

What do I know about it now?

At no point does the film divert from sarcasm and ridiculousness, from the opening credits onward — something incredibly difficult to do for an entire feature length. The jokes were as delightful as I remembered. Before getting too wrapped up in the content, I have to give the technical aspects a fair look-over: the cinematography was nice and of course performed for maximum effect, but I confess that the coloring made the film somewhat challenging to watch.  It felt like a cheap BBC play, which might have been the point, but it would’ve benefited them to take more care.  The costuming is beyond awesome — while they certainly desired to recreate a medieval scenery and attire, they enhanced some of the quirks (robes, armor, hairstyles) to remind us of how absurd we can allow ourselves to become, both in the era and currently. I enjoyed Sir Bedevere’s constant struggle with his mask and Lancelot’s impractical use of a chain mail “helmet” thing. We’re talking about a group of comedians, so the acting is second to their delivery, which is truly the golden element of the film. What bummed me out a bit is the lack of continuity and wandering from place to place.  The plot is wrecked — intentionally — on a humorous decision to avoid Camelot for being a “silly place” and instead becomes a quest to search out the holy grail.  The rest of the film is highly dependent on situational humor. Each scene resembled sketch comedy, rendering the feature length film almost useless. The film concludes as if the writers sort of ran out of jokes and added one more punchline to escape. The best way to approach this is to watch it all and take note of your favorite jokes, then use the scene selection or forward to those spots in the film upon subsequent viewings.

My favorite part, if you care to know:

What are some themes in the film?

Everything is absurd: nobility, futility, legends (and their veracity), medieval weaponry/attire, discrimination

Did this affect me personally?

It’s a mainstay from my youth and has nostalgic traits, so yes.

Why is this ranked #93?

This is a true cult classic.  Many who care none for British humor and Monty Python as a troupe know and adore this film. It’s great fun to watch with friends, making it a peer-pressure type of favorite.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She couldn’t stand the majority of it, and she loves British humor.

Would I watch it again?

Probably, but only with friends.  It’s not as funny by yourself, I would guess.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Most, if not all of my friends, have seen it.  It’s not what one would call an “important” film, but it has memorable traits, and you’ll be on board with all of the jokes your friends know if you see it.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

The standards at this point of the list are VERY high.  It’s hard to qualify this as a great film because, beyond the popularity and the witty jokes, it’s not. There are few comedies on this list. Typically in a feature length comedy, some jokes work and some fall flat.  I confess that absolutely none fall flat in this film, which redeems it. Monty Python does not deserve to be considered a top 100 film, and it’s hard to justify even 250, but on posterity and humor alone, it works well enough to be remembered, and continues to be praised as an all-time favorite.

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