Darren Jamieson
Monty Python and the Holy Grail DVD Review

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

September 2, 2003

Director: Terry Gilliam,
Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jone, Michael Palin, Connie Booth, Carol Cleveland, Neil Innes, Bee Duffell,

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DVD Review

Darren Jamieson

I fart in your general direction, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Now that I’ve offended and scared off those that don’t know Python, the rest of us can divulge in some joviality and reminisce of times when comedy was pure, simple and completely hat stand.

Monty Python’s Holy Grail on DVD on comes in a bizarre feature packed two disc set. Bonus footage includes a service message on how to use coconuts, a ‘scouting of locations’ short with a spoof commentary and a Lego Studios rendition of the hoedown at Camelot. These features are as weird and wonderful as they sound, and pure Python with it.

But before you go any further you must first answer these three questions! Shouting them at the screen will suffice:

What is your name?
What is your quest?
What is the average air speed of an un-laden swallow?

Right, if you answered ‘Arthur King of the Britons’ to the first, ‘to seek the Grail’ for the second, you were unsure of the third answer (did I mean an African or a European swallow) then you may proceed. Otherwise bugger off, you silly sod! Or I shall taunt you some more!

Now that I’ve definitely gotten rid of any non Python fans we may continue. Bloody splitters.

I know that’s a Life of Brian line, but let’s be brutally honest, Holy Grail can’t compete with Life of Brian in the comedy stakes, but since Life of Brian is without question the greatest comedy of all time, it was never really going to.

OK then, this is the serious bit. The success of Holy Grail allowed the Python team to produce the ‘much hated by religious groups’ Life of Brian, which used many of the same jokes only they were repainted for the setting.

Holy Grail though is very much a transitional film. A lot of the Python’s anarchic style shines through, for better or worse, and this results in the film not quite pulling off the greatness it was capable of, making it very much a hit and miss entity. But when it’s good it’s brilliant.

Grail doesn’t gel together as well as Brian, relying heavily on one off gags that, whilst successful in a TV series are somewhat lost on the big screen. The fake Bob Monkhouse opening and the unsatisfying ending of the film are the obvious examples of this.

Despite the flaws within Grail, and there are many, it is still one funny movie – with moments of pure genius.

For those that have seen it I need only to shout out phrases such as ‘Consult the Book of Armaments’ and you know precisely what I mean.

The Holy Grail is the mythical chalice that was supposedly used by Christ at his last supper, so who better to find it than Arthur, King of the Britons, and his faithful servant Patsy? Well, anyone really. With the aid of Sir Launcelot, Sir Galahad and the brave Sir Robin – who bravely ran away – the new King of England sets off to bring back the Grail.

Along the way they encounter all manner of dangers, including the fearless black knight who, despite losing his arm, proclaims that he’s ‘had worse’. Sir Galahad bravely faces a monastery full of nuns, aged between 16 and 19 and who have nothing to do but bathe, dress and undress. Luckily the terrible peril he faced was averted when the brave Sir Launcelot rescues him, despite Sir Galahad protesting that he was quite interested in the impending peril (and spanking).

We are the knights who say ‘Ni’.
These are the legendary knights who lurk around in the woods waiting for people to bring them shrubberies, and if they do not they will say ‘Ni’ until their helpless victims give in. These knights are undefeatable and remorseless in their use of the word ‘Ni’, but unfortunately have a weakness – cringing in pain whenever the word ‘it’ is mentioned. You may notice that Arthur actually says ‘it’ during their first meeting, but this goes unnoticed by the knights who say ‘Ni’.

I can’t believe I’m discussing this, I’ll move on.
Some help from a strange and powerful enchanter to whom some refer to as ‘Tim’ eventually leads the hapless band towards their holy grail, the Holy Grail. Unfortunately the most devastating and fearsome creature the world has ever seen is blocking their path – a fluffy white rabbit.

Unleash the Holy Hand grenade!
If you’ve ever spent hours playing with your worm, positioning him through skilful use of the ninja rope behind your opponent’s worm and unleashed molten death upon him, you’ll know that Monty Python’s Holy Grail gave Team 17’s Worms the Holy Hand Grenade.

Blessed by the Lord and carried by priests in a chest, this weapon from the heavens is the perfect armament for dealing with ferocious, blood curdling bunnies. Not forgetting that three shall be the number of the counting, and that five is right out, Arthur dispatches the rabid bunny, Old Testament style.

The world is generally divided into two camps when it comes to Monty Python’s Holy Grail. There are those who believe that it’s one of the funniest movies of all time, quite possibly second only to Life of Brian itself. Then there are the Germans who, so long as we don’t mention the war, are content to laugh along with our unique British humour neither understanding it nor wishing too. After all, they have David Hasselhoff and take him seriously.

How come you know so much about swallows? Well, you have to when you’re a King you know.

So that’s the quest for the Grail over, I’m not going to end this review properly as they didn’t end the film properly either. Besides I can see the police closing in on me for crimes committed earlier today.

Darren has enjoyed an interest in film for many years, studying the subject at Newport Film School where he worked on the film ‘Cop on the Edge IX: Prelude to Justice‘ in a directing and acting capacity. The official site can be enjoyed here. Darren setup WhatDVD.Net in 2003 to further his love of films and to write passionately about the movies he enjoys, and about those that he doesn’t.

Although his day-to-day activities mean that he now has less time to review movies than he would ideally prefer, he still tries to review new releases, and DVDs from his extensive collection, whenever possible.
view all DVD reviews by Darren Jamieson

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Rating: 79%



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