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Overall Rating
4.67

Awesome82.41%
Worth A Look: 10.19%
Average: 2.31%
Pretty Bad: 1.85%
Total Crap: 3.24%

7 reviews, 174 user ratings


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Monty Python and the Holy Grail
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by Alexandre Paquin

"And now for something not completely different..."
4 stars

"Monty Python and the Holy Grail"'s type of humour is not for everyone, but the members of the famous British group are at their best in this send-up of all medieval tales.

Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, the six writers and stars of the British Broadcasting Corporation"s television show "Monty Python's Flying Circus", on the air from 1969 to 1974, are unquestioned celebrities in the world of television humour. They were first introduced in North America through a film compilation, "And Now For Something Completely Different" (1971), yet in spite of this prestigious calling card, the American public has always considered the group's peculiar type of humour too quirky. Monty Python's type of humour was typically presented as a series of unconnected sketches inspired by the absurd, and linked together by a few cartoons drawn by Terry Gilliam. While Monty Python's popularity would be diminished with the release of their third and fourth feature films, "Monty Python's Life of Brian" (1979), a deliberate assault on religious beliefs, and "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" (1983), in which subjects of disputable taste were treated in a predictably humorous manner, the group developed a cult following over the years, large enough that their old television shows can still be viewed regularly on the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States. The popularity of the Pythons was such that even though the group officially disbanded in 1974, they re-united for an occasional film or live show until Chapman's death in 1989.
The group's pinnacle was undoubtedly attained in 1975 with the release of their second feature film, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", a witty send-up of all medieval themes, written by the entire group and directed by Gilliam and Jones. Even though the film is visually splendid and truly captures a medieval atmosphere, it in fact cost a grand total of 229,575 pounds, with rock groups Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin partially paying the bill. Even though some critics despised the film, it was, thanks to the Python fans, a commercial success, to such an extent that it was successfully re-released in a few American cities in 2001 with an extra twenty-four seconds of footage.

Spoofing the medieval genre was easy -- so easy in fact that it is now almost impossible to do it without imitating a previous effort. Over the years, Hollywood had always presented audiences with the same version of the Middle Ages. In it, the gothic elements, which included barbarism and the overwhelming domination of the Catholic Church, were downplayed in favour of a romanticized portrayal, filled with chivalrous knights in armour, damsels in distress, and evil lords. Of course, any medieval film had to include an epic battle or a climactic duel, but no blood was ever shown, and the savagery of the period was carefully sanitized. While violence gradually became acceptable to mainstream audiences from the late 1960's onwards, the medieval era remained surrounded by the pink aura that earlier films had built around it until the mid-1970's. In its non-serious way, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" was an early example of a film which detached itself from all the various clichés usually found in the medieval genre while at other times embracing them in order to spoof it with more effectiveness. This is a risky approach: Parodies which are particularly fond of the clichés from which they try to generate laughs often become little more than genteel pastiches of their subject matter, while "serious" historical epics which try to innovate are often dismissed as "unconvincing" or "revisionist". Monty Python found the ideal middle ground: They created a picture-perfect medieval setting from which any epic would take advantage, while constantly refusing to benefit from it by introducing themes that are clearly un-medieval.

For their parody, the Pythons selected the best known medieval tale: the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and among all the stories comprising the legend, the group wisely selected the quest for the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail was originally the vessel which the Christ used at the Last Supper, and which was later used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect the blood and the sweat of Jesus on the Cross. As Joseph of Arimathea was believed to have spread Christianity into Britain, it was normal to deduce that he had brought the Grail with him. King Arthur was convinced to try to retrieve the Grail following a vision of it by one of his knights, Sir Galahad. The topic proved particularly suited to the Pythons' type of humour for two reasons.

First, because the quest for the Holy Grail is, mostly, Utopian. Because the existence of the Grail is very much dependent on Christian beliefs, the audience does not expect King Arthur and his valiant knights to find the Grail. The quest for the Grail is, in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", a pretext that carries the action forward: the characters spend almost the entire film looking for it, but it is made clear throughout the film, and particularly with the ending, that whether they find it or not is, ultimately, unimportant.

Second, because the Arthurian myths are, as chronicled by various writers since the Middle Ages, mostly based on a collection of various independent tales loosely related to each other (often retelling the adventures of one knight), which the reader would have some difficulty in aligning in a chronological order. This was the approach used by Sir Thomas Malory, author of Le Morte d'Arthur, the most famous English-language rendition of the Arthurian myths, and it bears a striking resemblance to the structure used by the Pythons for their television show. No matter how remote the subject of the film might seem, do not be mistaken -- we are in familiar Python territory.

The six members of the Python group play most of the parts in the film, but their most important roles are those of King Arthur (played in a quasi-Shakespearean manner by Graham Chapman) and his Knights of the Round Table: Sir Launcelot the Brave (John Cleese), the wise Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones), Sir Galahad the Pure (Michael Palin), and Sir Robin, the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Launcelot (Eric Idle). After deciding not to go to Camelot, King Arthur's mythical castle, where everyone is apparently too busy tap-dancing, the brave sovereign and his vassals receive a message from God that they should seek the Holy Grail. From there, our valiant knights shall face the most dangerous perils of their life: Sir Robin meets a three-headed giant from whom he bravely runs away, Sir Galahad is trapped in a castle filled with sex-starved virgins, Sir Launcelot gets mixed up in a family business, and King Arthur must confront the terrifying Knights who say "Ni!". These are but a few of the obstacles which King Arthur and his knights would face before hoping to reach the Grail.

In spite of the meager budget and the absurdity of the story (our valiant knights have no horse but a companion who claps coconut shells together to imitate the sound of hooves), the film succeeds in creating a truly medieval atmosphere better than many large-budget productions it parodies. This was achieved by shooting on location (mostly in Scotland), by using an expectedly impressive amount of fog, and by filming all interior scenes inside a single genuine castle from different angles. Additional flavour was provided using cheap props and costumes which nevertheless looked real, for example the two-dimensional plywood replicas of castles seen from a distance, therefore proving that it is possible to create an excellent film on a budget that would make James Cameron snicker.

However, while "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" includes the usual staples made famous by the television show -- including a reference to Spam and John Cleese as an arrogant Frenchman -- the effectiveness of the subject matter wears off one hour into the film when King Arthur and his Knights meet after their individual quests. After this point, the action seems unnecessarily stretched, and although there are a few particularly hilarious moments (particularly the "bridge of death"), the action becomes uninspired, and the Pythons appear as though they are suddenly completely out of water vis-à-vis their topic. The jokes are tired, and instead of belonging to a medieval world, our protagonists seem to be just goofing around in chainmail, with no definite purpose or destination.

Monty Python's humour is an acquired taste, and the film, as such, will not satisfy everyone. Some may be disappointed or even enraged by the absurd adventures King Arthur and his Knights get involved in, but there are occasional laughs for everyone, even in the opening credits. The medieval setting remains credible throughout the film, and while many multi-million-dollar pictures tried to create such an atmosphere in vain, the Pythons always try to destroy it deliberately, but nearly always in the most conceivably hilarious manner.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1231&reviewer=287
originally posted: 02/28/02 03:27:40
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User Comments

3/07/17 Louise Those who don't like it just don't get British humour. End of. 5 stars
11/22/09 R.W. Welch Occasionally too far out but mostly pretty inventive stuff. 4 stars
8/03/09 Stephen One of the funniest movies i'v ever seen! 5 stars
7/17/09 PAUL SHORTT A MISH-MASH OF UNFUNNY, RIDICULOUS PSEUDO-COMEDY 1 stars
2/19/09 Fuck This Movie It Sucks This is the worst non funny movie ever 1 stars
4/07/08 Owl Must see, extermely stupid!! 4 stars
2/26/08 pkr there's no match to monty python in parody 5 stars
1/15/08 zenny It gets funnier every. single. time. 5 stars
10/23/07 Bitchflaps Twee, childish and not all that well timed. 2 stars
10/03/07 beaver Ni 5 stars
5/14/07 Eric Stop being a sheep and just admit that this is the worst over rated movie ever 1 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Classic Monty python that will mostly entertain on both sides of the atlantic. 4 stars
1/05/07 Anarcho-syndicalist commune YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE. GET UP AND GO BUY IT RIGHT NOW. 5 stars
10/17/06 Quigley the killer rabbit, the guy beating the cat on the post, the holy hand grenade = mega-funny! 5 stars
10/17/06 AJ Muller dont like it?you're stupid.now go give it another chance before I taunt you a second time. 5 stars
7/18/06 David Cohen Genius 5 stars
6/25/06 pedro one of the best movies ever, if you don't watch it you deserve to turn into a newt 5 stars
5/07/06 chienne Brilliabt, clever, witty, gorgeous to watch....amazing. And completely different. 5 stars
4/26/06 Boing She turned me into a newt!...............I got better 5 stars
11/17/05 Crystal Saw it when first came out and it still makes me laugh. Best British comedy ever made. 5 stars
11/10/05 Julia So hilarious! Defineley worth a look from anyone, I completley recsommend it! Oh, and "NI!" 5 stars
11/08/05 Mr Jak Ne 5 stars
10/03/05 Tim the Enchanter THERE ARE THOSE WHO CALL ME ... Tim? 5 stars
8/29/05 sweetgrrl1972 Brilliant 5 stars
8/28/05 asina the funniest movie ever made. 5 stars
8/17/05 ES There are some big laughs, almost unbelievable laughs, but its way over-hyped 4 stars
7/09/05 Rebecca No other comedy compares 5 stars
6/20/05 1 the rabbit scene is funny 5 stars
3/28/05 BILLY BOB JR. THE 2ND AND A 1/2 FUNNIEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME 5 stars
3/24/05 indrid cold It's fairly funny, but I it's not exactly hilarious from start to finish like most say. 3 stars
10/14/04 John Doe This is an amazing movie, watch it today 5 stars
9/14/04 Richard Zuithof The best film i've ever seen 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody This is what every comedy should be like! 5 stars
5/14/04 Agent Sands It's funny and everything, but it's NOT THAT BIG A DEAL! 4 stars
5/06/04 horror_blood Pretty good comedy, but must be approached with an open mind (which most people lack). 5 stars
4/24/04 ranger4e Side splitting 5 stars
4/09/04 Daveman Utterly ingenious. Perhaps the best comedy ever made. 5 stars
2/16/04 Anarchy Azmi ADAM>>>>A DUMB 5 stars
1/04/04 Littlepurch Very funny in a sick, disturbing kind of way. Crap ending though which ruins it. 4 stars
12/07/03 Mike Why not trei a holiday in Sweden this yer? 5 stars
12/03/03 ADAM who likes this shit...STUPID COMEDY..OVERRATED 1 stars
11/28/03 john every scene seems to be a classic - very funny 5 stars
11/24/03 Gi Gi Coconuts don't migrate!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/22/03 BOBBY COMPLETELY HILARIOUS! COULDNT STOP LAUGHING 5 stars
10/01/03 Jim bob I want a shrubery and a with picket fence... 5 stars
9/19/03 gman some call me tim... 5 stars
9/18/03 AD funny as fuck 5 stars
7/17/03 Mr. Hat Very funny, but really overrated. "Life of Brian" was wittier & more clever. 4 stars
6/22/03 John Aster Habig awesome movie but the extra stuff they put in the DVD as part of the film sucks big 5 stars
6/08/03 AshFan Ni! Ni! Ni! 4 stars
5/22/03 fartzrgood this deserves 10 stars fools!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/01/03 Johnny Boy Funniest Movie I've seen in a long time REALY!!!!!! 5 stars
4/28/03 Angolmois Classic comedy, but it has aged quite a bit. What was outrageous then now is just amusing. 4 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink Very funny, but also a bit overrated. 4 stars
4/16/03 JL totally awesome 5 stars
3/25/03 Arran Best film i have ever seen, stuff your horror bollocks. Watch this 5 stars
3/05/03 autonymous collective another poke in the eye for organised religion and the state!!! 5 stars
2/18/03 Rob Thanks for your page, it rocks!! 5 stars
1/28/03 Mitsaso Why should the bunny dieeee...... 5 stars
1/18/03 Josh Lyman 5 stars
1/01/03 John Aster Habig the movie that placed MP up w/ the Marx Bros 5 stars
12/23/02 E-Rock The single greatest comedy in the history of Film. NEE! 5 stars
12/06/02 i-might-be-giant kicks ass 5 stars
11/23/02 Lindsay Burrell Not a good as 'Brian', but well worth a look! 4 stars
11/13/02 Fred Wallace Awsome! Hilarious 5 stars
10/17/02 Charles Tatum There are some who know me as Tim 5 stars
9/29/02 Morally Sound Funniest movie ever! "The Holy Hand-Grenade of Antioch! AHHHHHHHH!" 5 stars
9/23/02 TomF Great film, has only gotten better with age 5 stars
9/23/02 The Bomb 69 okiedokie 5 stars
8/10/02 Film Guy Funny but a little boring. NI 3 stars
8/05/02 maximal01 The Special Edition fuckin ROCKS!! Go buy a copy today, you English pig dog!!! 5 stars
8/01/02 Film Dude Simply brilliant. 5 stars
7/28/02 Jon Fechez La Vache! 5 stars
7/23/02 Bueller "Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?" Brilliant Python comedy, at it's best! 5 stars
7/15/02 Kyle You must bring us a shrubbery! 5 stars
7/11/02 Kristin to anyone who doesn't like it I fart in your general direction & your mother was a hampster 5 stars
7/05/02 Curtis Pure insanity. That's why it's (arguably) the greatest comedy film ever made. ;-) 5 stars
6/25/02 Jiz Funniest movie ever!!! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! 5 stars
4/28/02 Awen Revenez!!! Vite!!! 5 stars
4/26/02 Charles Tatum Monty Python were gods 5 stars
4/04/02 Tasha Very very good it is the best comedy ever made 5 stars
3/18/02 a knight who says "ni" Anyone who hates this movie has a very narrow sense of humour 5 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Sheer comic perfection. The 2 disc DVD is hilarious. The Lego Knights are great! 5 stars
2/26/02 KMG I thought I had too much to drink 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Say no more! Say no more! 5 stars
2/01/02 Donnie Most Quoted Comedy Movie of ALL TIME! 5 stars
1/27/02 Mark Holmes Only a freak of nature would not find this funny. 5 stars
1/12/02 Andrew Carden People Are Gonna Hate Me For This. It Wasn't Very Good...Just My Own Opinion. 2 stars
1/11/02 Gracy Lionheart HA HA HA!!! I'M A LOONY!!! YAY for the Python Crew!!! 5 stars
12/30/01 sarafina only they can legally be that funny 5 stars
12/21/01 Leah Colven the funniest movie ever made 5 stars
11/09/01 Button Simply perfection! 5 stars
10/29/01 Mud_81 Elderberries 5 stars
10/26/01 moviegeek See the violence inherent in the system! 5 stars
10/26/01 Spock Absolutely hilarious! Deliciously illogical! 5 stars
10/15/01 Mr. Hat I like the Black Knight and the mean French guy. 4 stars
10/13/01 British Bulldog Superb film. The Monty Python team at their best. 5 stars
8/22/01 zeitgeist "blue. NO!" 5 stars
7/31/01 Henry Ginsberg Your mother was a hampster and your father smelled of elleberrys . 5 stars
5/27/01 There are some that call me....Tim You either get "it" or you don't. My sympathies to those who don't. 5 stars
5/13/01 fifu the funnest movie of all time "the black knight battle is the funnest thing" 5 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye I direct you to whoever said that the movie was "dum." Takes brains to enjoy, but worth it! 5 stars
4/01/01 Jesse L All I can say is "Ni! Ni! Ni!" 5 stars
3/15/01 Richard Wright Very hit and miss film, great bits followed by pieces of lame humour.Not as good as Brian. 3 stars
3/05/01 Greyjack Five stars, obviously. Quite possibly the funniest comedy EVER. 5 stars
3/05/01 Kronos There are those who hate this film. They deserve our pity, not our scorn. 5 stars
3/02/01 otherwiggin awesome 5 stars
2/09/01 kay hall thought it was dum 2 stars
2/09/01 Amber Adams This movie sucked 1 stars
2/09/01 Frankie Richardson I loved this movie. It is in a class all its own. It is too bad there are no more movies 5 stars
1/27/01 elliot monty python are the kings of british humor 5 stars
1/22/01 Althaia I love this movie. 5 stars
1/15/01 Skip A real gem. 5 stars
1/04/01 jason bobby It was awsome 5 stars
12/28/00 TomServo Halarious 5 stars
12/20/00 dr.bernie the masters of comedy are at their maximum masterness in this film 5 stars
12/10/00 Pyromaniac This movie kicks ass! It's the first Monty Python I saw. It separates 'us' from 'them'. NI! 5 stars
12/05/00 edd Bloody brilliant i say!! 5 stars
12/04/00 Phil Sheridan Magnificent 5 stars
11/30/00 Joanna K Nice......... 5 stars
11/10/00 Mr. Right This is by far the greatest movie of all time. 5 stars
11/07/00 Kelly There's no way this movie CAN'T be loved! Anyone who hasn't seen it lives a sheltered life 5 stars
11/04/00 nunya what the hell!!!! 4 stars
10/29/00 Jon S. Can't say anything that hasn't been said before... 5 stars
10/22/00 Mike C. Anyone who doesn't like this film should be thrown to the killer rabbit!!! 5 stars
10/20/00 Mickey E. Suttle Back for more. This film kicks ass!! 5 stars
10/17/00 Wendy I loved it!!! All time favorite!! 5 stars
10/10/00 Breann13 "I wave my panties in your face. I will fart in your general direction" (french accent) 5 stars
10/07/00 Mickey E. Suttle One of the funniest films ever put on film. Great. Awesome. Superwow. 5 stars
10/07/00 brandon finken this was one of the best movies i have ever seen 5 stars
10/01/00 Matt What're you gonna do... BLEED ON ME???? 5 stars
9/11/00 Erin Monty Python. 'Nuff said. 5 stars
9/04/00 sevens absoluting the best comedy written and performed 5 stars
8/14/00 lordcaptain it fuckun rocks 5 stars
8/05/00 Jed Humorous but dumb in a bad way mainly for python fans. 3 stars
4/07/00 Sephiroth126 It makes me laugh just reading about scenes in rewiews.Get friends together, watch it! 5 stars
4/06/00 Moo Miester FUN! I LOVE IT! Why do reviewers always think that the most hysterical movies are lame? 5 stars
4/01/00 Tess This is THE funniest movie i've ever seen. I've watched is so many times i know every line! 5 stars
3/19/00 rikki its my all time favorite movie. 5 stars
3/17/00 Marc Silly 5 stars
3/09/00 David Rogers Funniest movie. I saw it 2 months ago and I'm still laughing. Ha! Ha! Ha! 5 stars
3/08/00 chicaleah you need to watch the movie more then once to find all the comiedy 5 stars
3/03/00 vnvbnyh ghnb a bloody funny movie, bloke 5 stars
1/18/00 Jedi15 JOHN WHITE, your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries. 5 stars
12/23/99 Wafer the most fucking brilliant movie ever 5 stars
12/20/99 Karen Gomes Being an a fan of Brit humour, I have to say that this film is on of the group's best. 5 stars
12/06/99 Ann "You can't hurt me, you bastard...you've got no arms"-how often do you hear that? funny 5 stars
10/24/99 Emily H BLOODY BRILLIANT - the only not so good thing about it is that Life of Brian was better. 5 stars
10/17/99 JOHN WHITE SUCKS 1 stars
9/13/99 Steve Damn good..... 5 stars
9/11/99 Erik Østergaard Larsen This movie has it all! 5 stars
9/04/99 jesse keifenheim it is the best movie i've ever seen! 5 stars
8/26/99 Jason Kinsey Amazingly inventive! One of the funniest comedies I've seen! 5 stars
8/23/99 Physh I quote it everyday...that good. 5 stars
8/05/99 Exhibit A Tis but a scratch you knigget!!! Excellent comedy, best of python... 5 stars
8/03/99 Will G This is a classic. No person should be denied the humor in this movie 5 stars
7/24/99 Hagbard Celine Let me go back and face the peril! 5 stars
6/25/99 David Keech Too zany for me. I prefer their witty comedy. Watch "Life Of Brian" instead. 2 stars
6/09/99 Elizaveta Monty Python is the BEST comedy for ALL FREAKIN TIME 5 stars
6/06/99 Matthew Bartley Beware the rabbit, beware the rabbit 5 stars
5/15/99 Javachik It's Monty Python, what else can I possibly say!! 5 stars
3/05/99 little jerry The servants banging the coconuts is sheer genius.One of the greatest opening scenes ever. 5 stars
2/24/99 Beako One of my ALL TIME FAVORITES! 5 stars
2/02/99 Keith Bartelmey The only reasn you'll need to bring out your dead is because you'll die from laughter 5 stars
1/09/99 Thorn Silvertree Monty Python is one of the reasons God invented laughter. 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni!Ni! 5 stars
11/20/98 tom sleepy time 1 stars
11/16/98 Jules Classic, funny, and a better medieval portrayal then HW's best glam. 5 stars
11/16/98 Lord Of The Dunce Very hit and miss, with more hit than miss. Some classic lines and scenes. 4 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob The most accessable of the Python flicks, therefore just shy of 'F.A.' 4 stars
10/27/98 Christ Monkey Good late at night with a bunch of friends, I guess... 3 stars
10/25/98 J-Guy this movie makes me laugh hard. 5 stars
10/25/98 {{{OZ}}} Extremely funny, but does have some slow parts. Overall a must-see. 5 stars
10/25/98 Johny Classic comedy 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Apr-1975 (PG)
  DVD: 03-Oct-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Jul-1975 (PG)




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