johnlink ranks MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974)

When I finished DEATH WISH I still had another four hours to kill before the Super Bowl. I needed to laugh. I went with Monty Python, not realizing that HOLY GRAIL and DEATH WISH were both 1974 films released in the US within a month of each other. Go figure.

I watched MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974) on 2.5.12. It was, oh, probably my tenth or eleventh viewing of this classic comedy.

Perhaps it was not wise to watch this film hours before a game I had been thinking about non-stop for two weeks. I spent more time checking the clock that I would have liked, so I can’t say that this was my most enjoyable viewing of this film. That said, I think  I can still take an honest look at this and be properly objective in my subjectivity. Or something.

I’ve always thought of this as my favorite Python film, and certainly I am not alone in that thinking. If you were to pick a top 10 favorite moments from the entire Python catalogue, at least three or four of them, and maybe five, would come from this film alone. The witch scene, the killer rabbit, the bridge keeper, the french guards, the Knights Who Say Ni, the swallow guards… I mean this is just a clearing house for hilarious ideas.

I have always wished for a little more cohesiveness in the story, though I also acceptthat the sketch comedy nature of Python doesn’t require logic. I also always have felt cheated by the ending. I understand the thematic point of it all, but just get left wanting more.

The Python guys are just simply on the top of their game for this. I frequently remark, in these pages, about how I don’t downgrade my acting score just because someone is doing comedy. Good comedy is as hard to do as good drama. That said, often times comedies are much more lazy in their approach and commitment to a role (I’m thinking of every 90s Adam Sandler movie). But the Python guys are committed, really committed. They each play at least a half dozen roles. And, while there is recognition regarding who is who, there is not the sense that you are seeing all different versions of the same characters. There is some real, specific character work done here, even if it is in the name of absurdity.

Sure there are a few scenes which are less successful for me such as Galahad’s foray into the women’s castle. I’ve also always found the songs to be nearly unable to be understood. Perhaps I need the Blu Ray and better surround sound. But I can understand almost nothing in the Camelot Castle song.

But this film is a miracle in budget use. The coconuts for horses choice is a brilliant stroke. Often they are obviously in a modern place, yet it works because of the introduction of the modern police. The reuse of the same castles to look different works very well, and the costumes are effective if not regal. They made this whole thing on about 240,000 pounds, so they weren’t throwing money around at anything.

This is a case where the whole may not be equal to the sum of its parts. I can call up almost any scene on you tube and laugh out loud. But the connection is minimal, and the end is just not for me. This is an absolute classic in the comedic genre, but it is by no means a perfect film.





~ by johnlink00 on February 6, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974)”

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