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Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Film Review

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Published September 30th 2013

Well, how to begin? This film is ridiculous. A good ridiculous: the kind of film you would be able to sit and watch and find new jokes upon multiple viewings. There is one good reason for that - it's a product of the Monty Python team.

[ADVERT]Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam turned comedy on its head in 1969, when they abandoned typical sketch show formats in favour of more surreal, stream-of-consciousness with Monty Python's Flying Circus. The show was a phenomenal success that has been attributed as doing for comedy what The Beatles did for music. It ended in 1974 and each of the troupe's members went on to a string of successful solo projects, including (but not limited to) Cleese's timeless Fawlty Towers.

This was their first real film (unless you count And Now For Something Completely Different, a re-recording of their "greatest hits" sketches into a film format), and the limited budgets they had did not hinder the finished project one bit. In fact, it adds a certain degree of charm to what can only be described as one of the greatest cult movies imaginable.

There were other challenges aside from money that could have prevented Holy Grail from ever being finished. Chapman, who later died of cancer as a result of years of alcoholism and pipe smoking in 1989, was battling his reliance on alcohol throughout the recording of the film. So much that he would often forget his lines through being well... very drunk! He was the film's primary actor and involved in almost every scene, which provided a very tense atmosphere with his colleagues due to the amount of takes of each individual scene. Eventually though it all managed to come together.

Key stand out moments that have become part of popular culture ever since due to this movie are the formidable Killer Rabbit, the fight with the limbless Black Knight (John Cleese), and the oft-quoted Knights who say "Nii". Acting as individual sketches within the film my particular favourite is none of the above, but of Terry Jones' portrayal of a soppy young Prince who just wants to sing, with his father the king (Michael Palin) stopping musical cues at every opportune moment. His bride is then brutally murdered by Sir Lancelot (John Cleese).

It serves as an interesting pastiche to the Knights of the Round Table legend and that of the Holy Grail. Oh and God also shows up at one point. He's far more camp than I imagined!

A must see!
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