Directed by the Terrys: Gilliam and Jones (also acting in several roles)
John Cleese as Lancelot/Tim/Black Knight
Michael Palin as Galahad/Dennis/Leader of the Knights who say Ni!
Graham Chapman as Arthur/voice of God
Eric Idle as Robin/Roger/Collector of dead bodies
Written by the boys Python
Synopsis: King Arthur recruits a band of horseless knights to help him search for the Holy Grail. They bumble around Britain with coconuts meeting various adversaries who really don’t mean them any harm at all, but for some reason they’re TERRIFIED of them. Hilarity ensues, as well as several arrests and inexplicable deaths.
Seriously. What could be better than a group of hilarious British men in silly costumes galloping to the sound of coconuts? And using the word “it” so frequently that it brings a group of forest-dwelling knights to their knees (figuratively) in agony? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie so funny, or so easy to quote. In my high school speech class, scenes from this film were acted with astonishing frequency. EVERYBODY loves a Python flick.
So, if you’ve seen it already, I’m hoping you concur. While learning that Graham Chapman was suffering the side effects of alcoholism for most of the filming process was sad yet reasonable (bizarre is one of the only words that accurately describes this talented group, and Chapman’s King Arthur was DEFINITELY bizarre), as well as the true airspeed and velocity of an unladen swallow, you still can’t help but wish you were as funny as these people, and that you’d thought up some of this stuff that is now immortalized on film.
If you HAVEN’T seen it yet, please do so. What’s the appeal? This is one movie that I don’t think has any specific draw for either gender. The guys aren’t HOT, so-to-speak. Several of them play unattractive women throughout the course of the movie. There’s no romance, unless you count a knight being (partially) seduced by a castle full of lonely women. The violence is so grossly juvenile you can’t do anything but laugh when body parts are lopped off because of the excessive blood spray, which strongly resembles V8 juice in both color and consistency. I think the only draw is pure silliness. You have no choice but to chortle through every scene, repeat them several times, and commit lines to memory. My personal favorites:
- The swallow discussion, shouted from ground to rampart and back. It is an intriguing topic, is it not? I know it’s kept me up a few nights.
- Dennis’s speech about class differences and the place of government in society. It’s hard to take seriously, since he’s gathering clods of dirt and mud as he pontificates. It really resonates in today’s political world, truth be told. I wish more leaders were selected the way Arthur was.
- The song that very nearly gets sung, but we never actually hear. The shot of John Cleese running up the hill in Hampstead Heath, repeatedly, from the same starting point, just builds the suspense.
I can’t think of a single thing wrong with this movie. It’s one of a very few special editions that I’ve purchased at full-price (a choice that has nothing to do with film quality; I’m just cheap). So without further ado because, honestly, if I keep writing, I’m just going to quote the whole thing and ruin it for you, here are my ratings:
Weepy factor: 1/10 You might laugh so hard that a few tears leak out.
Man factor: 10/10 The comedic gore from beginning to end (plus the potty humor) will keep him glued to the couch next to you.
Overall rating: 9/10 Because there are some people who just won’t appreciate it; Python humor is pretty wacko. And that’s fine. I don’t judge you based on your opinions. Unless you don’t like this movie, and then I am forced to conclude that you have no taste in movies whatsoever, and makes me glad that I am the one writing this blog, not you. But I mean that in the most friendly, non-judgmental way possible.
Enjoy and thank me later.