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  Monty Python and the Holy Grail Makes Ben Hur look like an Epic....
Year: 1975
Director: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Stars: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Neil Innes, Connie Booth, Carol Cleveland
Genre: Comedy, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 6 votes)
Review: It's pretty strange writing a review for a movie that just about everyone has seen, and about which everyone has an opinion. We all know Python. We all grew up saying 'Ni!' out loud at each other, asking the question 'What have the Romans ever done for us?' and sitting in the school canteen pretending to explode like Mr Creosote. But this is my take on the first real big-screen Python movie...

The basic plot is a simple one. King Arthur rides through the land, gathering the bravest, wisest, and most available Knights to join him at his court at Camelot. But when they get there, they decide that it's "a silly place", and so they ride off, only to be stopped by God, and be given a quest - to find The Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus drank at The Last Supper.

And so the knights split up, encountering various dangers and temptations, such as the Knghts who say "Ni!", the maidens who live in Castle Anthrax, whose life revolves around making interesting underwear and hoping for a visitor who can spank them; the unexplained french soldiers who crop up now and again, not forgetting the Killer Rabbit and Tim The Enchanter.

Most of the roles are of course taken up by the six regular actors, with probably the best performances coming from Michael Palin as the King of Swamp Castle, John Cleese as Tim The Enchanter, Eric Idle as Sir Robin The Not So Brave, and Michael Palin again as Dennis, the spokesperson for the Peasant's semi-autonomous collective.

This movie isn't just about these six people, though. It's made so much more by the incidental events - such as monks whose chanting is punctuated by sharp slaps to the head with prayer-boards, the old man who refuses to be carted away with the other plague victims, because he says he's not dead yet; Connie Booth's witch, who despite all evidence to the contrary turns out to actually be a witch ("It's a fair cop..."); and of course, Terry Gilliam's animations. But probably more than these are the songs. We all know the Camelot song, immortalised in Lego as well as in Python. There's also the Ballad of Brave Sir Robin, and the chant of the monks. All of these and more incidental music were written by Neil Innes, whose contribution can't ever be overlooked.

The currently available R2 dvd has some great extras, including versions of the movie with subtitles for those who don't like the film (taken from Shakespeare), a whole bunch of real and spoof documentaries, and loads more - including the Lego Camelot scene! If you don't own it, get it now!
Reviewer: Paul Shrimpton

 

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Terry Gilliam  (1940 - )

Endlessly imaginative American director and animator who gained fame as one of the Monty Python team. He co-directed the Pythons' films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Life of Brian and Monty Python's Meaning of Life, but also helmed his own projects, starting with Jabberwocky and Time Bandits.

The brilliant Brazil was beset with production problems, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was nearly a complete disaster. After that, Gilliam directed other people's stories: The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Brothers Grimm. 2006's controversial Tideland returned Gilliam to independent filmmaking, while his failed attempt to bring Don Quixote to the screen was documented in the painful Lost in La Mancha.

His next, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, survived the death of its lead actor, and The Zero Theorem was a melancholy sci-fi which proved he could work quickly and efficiently after all. He finally succeeded with The Man Who Killed Don Quixote in 2018.

 
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