on July 3, 2004
Who would have thought that, after nearly 30 years, the world's goofiest movie could be made even moreso? Not only is this DVD a comedy triumph (it would be simply if it were the DVD version of the classic film, in which a crew too broke to afford horses for King Arthur and his Knights changed history and college kids' banter forever by introducing coconuts as migrating props). Oh, no, this DVD is one that may become a standard for other DVDs. Just look at this list of extras above! To be sure, some of them are fluff. The "load of rubbish" selection is simply some receipts and a few odd notes. But most of it is stupendous.
The first disc contains the movie itself, along with some choices of how to watch it.... subtitles, commentary by directors Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam or by John Cleese & Eric Idle & Michael Palin. Then "for people who don't like the film", there's subtitles from Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Part II". Now, these do not faithfully follow Henry IV verse by verse, but they do come from the play, and it's hilarious how the phrases Shakespeare wrote do actually match up with the action on the screen.
Disc Two contains several mementoes: a film of John Cleese, Terry Jones, and "Grail" production manager John Young (who also played the hapless "Historian" towards the end of the film, and the "I'm not dead!" guy) paying a return visit to Castle Doune , in 2000. At first it's fun to hear them reminisce at the filming site, but since it's a very small spot with nothing but a wall and a bit of ground, they appear uncomfortable and that quickly gets old. More interesting is the home movie made by the two Terries when they looked for prospective film locations in the seventies. Their excitement is palpable.
A somewhat painful scene (except for the chance it gives us to watch Terry Jones in action as a director) is the BBC documentary made during filming. The interviewer seems more interested in trying to be funny himself than in the Pythons. But there are several great comic extras, including words to some songs, a coconut skit, two scenes dubbed in Japanese, and best of all, an animated feature of the "Camelot" scene and song done entirely in Lego...must be seen to be believed.
Finally, someone has made good use of the storage space on a DVD.
One of the saddest things about the movie industry is the reluctance to take risks. Studios know that if you release a comic book movie, it will make money. If you have success of any kind, don't be afraid to churn out several sequels. But the most disturbing thing of all is what passes for comedy in today's world.
Comedy is extremely subjective. What works for me might not work for others. If you examine the previous 61 titles in this 100 movies series, you won't find anything that is classified solely as a comedy. Films such as Amelie, As Good as It Gets and Midnight in Paris certainly have a great deal of comedic content, but they also contain dramatic elements.
It's not that I don't like to laugh or don't have a sense of humor, it's just unrealistic to me when a movie tries to tell a joke in every sentence. I'm too aware that I am being manipulated. Maybe it has something to do with my age, but I don't think it's funny watching people get hit in the genitals repeatedly or fail to make it to the bathroom in time. Innuendo or scatological humor ceased to make me laugh two or three decades ago. Physical humor can work, but it has to be executed well.
Why am I bothering to tell you this?
The six members of the Monty Python team make me laugh, despite using all of the techniques described above. I keep asking myself why that is, and I think it's a combination of things. The writing is superb and unpredictable. If I see a joke coming from a mile away, I'm not likely to find it funny. Even though most of Python's material is extremely silly, it has a kind of sophisticated brilliance.
Who else could reduce the Lady of the Lake myth to:
"Strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords, is no basis for a system of government."
There's also the problem of acting ability and comic timing. Good writing can be ruined by poor execution. My favorite comedians can all act, and some of my favorite comedy comes from actors better known for dramatic roles. Something inside me rears up when people tell me they enjoyed Jack and Jill, Little Man or The Love Guru. If that's your kind of humor, you probably won't get much out of this review.
People like to laugh and that's why they love comedies. It's easy to watch and doesn't require much thought. There's no possibility that you'll look bad in front of your friends because you failed to understand the plot - if there is a plot. If you miss a joke, you can catch it again when they repeat it for the fourth or fifth time. Most dumb comedies run out of ideas in the first 45 minutes and struggle to approach the minimum expected running time that audiences will consider acceptable.
Here's a thought: if you spend your time and money watching terrible comedies, the studios think they should make more because it's obviously successful. It doesn't matter whether the audience liked the movie as long as they paid to be there. That money could have gone to serious filmmakers with something to say.
Are you still reading?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is complete nonsense. There is hardly any plot. The jokes are frequent and silly. But, somehow, it all works.
The plot, such as it is, shows King Arthur trying to recruit knights for his Round Table at Camelot. When they finally get there, they decide it's a silly place. God gives them something to do instead, by charging them with the task of finding the Holy Grail. It's all just an excuse for a series of loosely related sketches. The plot is almost completely irrelevant.
The humor is bizarre and it's written with a strange kind of flawed logic. You'll discover how to tell whether someone is a witch or a king, why you should never allow Lancelot to attend weddings, and how deadly white rabbits can be. There are a few oddly-placed songs, but listen to the lyrics and you'll probably laugh. The budget was too small to pay for real horses, so they just used coconuts. Don't expect a proper resolution. The story just stops dead in its tracks.
I've loved the humor of Monty Python since I was a child. Every member is likeable and the six have been responsible for some of the most quotable sketches ever made. Whether it's dead parrots, cheese shops, lumberjacks, silly walks, Yorkshiremen or spam, it never gets old for me. John Cleese was also responsible for Fawlty Towers, which, despite only running for 12 episodes, is one of the best comedies ever made.
Monty Python isn't for everyone. It's a very particular kind of British humor that some just won't get at all. Like the movie itself, this review just stops dead in its tracks.
on April 22, 2013
After all these years, if you are a Monty Python fan you have seen this movie and do not need to be told to see it. Just classic Python.
Movie: 5 Stars. It is absurd, outrageous and hilarious! Writing is as sharp, or shaper, than the best comedies currently.
Video: I would rate the video a 4/5. I don't think we will ever see a release of this movie on par with 2001 (on blu-ray the picture is STUNNING!) in term so picture quality. I think the quality of film it was shot on back then just doesn't have the resolution/quality of a 2001 and this is probably the best we will get. However it is an improvement over the DVD.
If you are Monty fan, have a blu-ray player and don't have HOLY GRAIL on DVD, buy the blu-ray! If you have DVD I still recommend the blu-ray. You can get it for around $10-$12 on sale and for a classic that is a price worth paying.
on November 27, 2013
Monty Python takes a good slice of epic and makes the heroic fantasy genre look pitiful with this outrageously funny outing.
The Knights of the Round Table all encounter one another and quest for the Holy Grail... alas, there was no money for horses so coconuts were used to simulate the sound of their footsteps. Alas, there was no money for epic battle scenes; funny and endless diatribes were filmed instead. Well, I could go on but needless to say the movie is funny, comedic and takes a nice stab at biblical epics, turning the genre on its head.
Audio and video is wonderful (I haven't seen the movie look so good in ages) so you're in Python land from the first second till the last drop (I'm pretty sure that's what I meant).
There is a second screen option, though I do not like the idea of not including everything on the disc (much like video games, it seems special features are bound to be available online one day... that is what I fear), but there is a nice mouthful of extras that reprise almost everything from the 2-disc DVD available a while back, and adds a few new featurettes.
Fans of Python rejoice, Holy Grail is not only a great movie, it is also beautifully restored.
on November 17, 2010
This movie is hilarious and very entertaining, and is very original. Many of the scenes are completely random and have nothing to do with anything, like the scene where the scenes argue at each other! How do they come up with this?
Unfortunately the people who designed the packaging must have not liked the movie because they made it so no one can watch it! The DVD is nearly impossible to remove from the package! If you do manage to take it out then put it in a different case or at least try and fix it with pliers so you can watch it again.
The special features are very cool and provide hours and hours of extra fun.
The film cell is cool but really doesnt have a point. The Screen play however is probably the best part because you can read monty python wherever you go!
on July 13, 2004
excellent. Possibly the funniest movie ever made. Who could forget such a line as "I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of eldeberries." This is a great movie and a great dvd edition that gives it justice. This is completely worth the money. A comedy Classic.
on May 9, 2009
So of course, this is one of the funniest movies ever, and if that were the only issue, I would have given it the full 5 stars. HOWEVER! Due to some insane person working in the design department, I can't get the discs out of the packaging. I managed to get disc 1 out once when I first bought it, watched it, loved it, etc etc. But when I went to watch it a second time a few months later, (I had forgotten how hard it was to get it out) the damn thing broke. So now my movie has an inch-and-a-half long crack in it and I can't watch it anymore.
So unless they've fixed this problem, I wouldn't really recommend this set unless you already have or are willing to purchase a lesser version of the movie (you know, so you can still watch it AND still get all the goodies herein). I, however, am poor and cannot afford to buy movies twice-over.
So now I am sad because I can't actually watch the movie. But I CAN just read the screenplay and act it out myself, which is almost as fun, provided I can find a shrubbery...NI!
on March 17, 2009
I can't recite all of the dialogue from scenes like some of my colleagues can, but I do adore this film. I write this review after reading Michael Palin's diaries, in which he describes the filming of the movie. Re-watching the film with his observations in mind, it's clear that the writing process that the Python's used is reflected in the finished film. Pairs of writers from within the group, or individuals, would write individual scenes and pitch them to the rest of the group in a read through. The collective group would critique scenes, and then the writer would rewrite and sharpen the focus of the scene based on the feedback. The ending of the film reflects the fact that there was no single leader of the Pythons, and unlike The Life of Brian, no one really had an ending for the film. In a script book that I bought in the 70s there was a proposed ending based on a chase scene paying homage to those great Italian films with Austin Mini's racing through narrow streets ending with Arthur and Grail driving off a dock into the ocean. I suspect that idea was too expensive for the financial backers of this film that included Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin. The film is like no other. The fact that so many of us can incorporate dialogue from this film into our daily lives shows how much it's become part of the fabric of pop culture. As a DVD release this has a great version of the film that takes advantage of the widescreen format we are all adopting. It also has some extras, including a documentary that was filmed as the movie was being made and a revisit to some of the old locations by some of the Pythons. I'd recommend this DVD for your collection on a number of levels. It's classic Python, it's a funny look at the legend of Camelot and it showcases the talents of a comedy troupe that would inspire a generation of comedians around the world. Plus, when someone quotes a bit of dialogue from the film, you'll be able to smirk knowing what they are referring to. Just look at the reviews - everyone has a favourite scene, a classic quote. For me, the sequence whereby a woman is put on trial for being a witch defines the intelligence of the Python writing. It's a fair cop!
There are so many things about this (and indeed any) Monty Python movie that one hardly knows where to begin. Nothing is left out of the mix--history, religion, politics, personal relationships, prejudices, intellectual prowess or the lack thereof. My title, of course, comes from an early scene in with Arthur approaches a castle, inexplicably occupied by French k-nigits, who claim to already have a grail.
The Monty Python troupe, led by the creative talents of Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, incorporated John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Graham Chapman as King Arthur, the dominant role in the film. No animals were harmed in the filming, not even an African Swallow, non-migratory as they are. A few coconuts bit the dust, however, as did more than a few comic images. Logic bits the dust, too, on more than one occasion. I did a paper once for symbolic logic which I was told ten years later was still being passed about because I had dared to use something so unconventional as this Monty Python movie in the references (I couldn't see why that wouldn't be much more common, and indeed, hope it is today--I use 'Life of Brian' in homilies, so why not this film in logic?).
The particular logical incident (or rather, illogical incident) involves the trial of a woman accused of being a witch. Through 'logic' it is demonstrated that she would be a witch if she weighed the same as a duck (which, surprisingly enough, it turns out that she does -- 'It's a fair cop' she concedes as the general rejoicing commences at the prospect of a bonfire). Those who have benefit of the 'Executive Version of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail' are also treated to an exposition of the logical problems which itself concludes that 'sex is better than logic'. And who could argue with that reasoning?
However, my favourite scene would have to be the liturgical procession and reading of instructions for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, with the leader's instruction 'skip a bit, brother' -- an instruction which I've searched in vain in the liturgical handbooks, but would vastly improve many readings on some mornings in church. This is a perfect parody of the sonorous but deadening readings that seem to drag on interminably.
A close second would be the scene in which Arthur tries to explain his kingship to members of an autonomous collective (read, peasants without a lord) who view him as just another oppressor, and inform him that watery tarts throwing swords at you is not an adequate basis for the exercise of supreme executive power.
Those who have visions of Great Britain as royal and cultural icons are often amazed-the likes of Monty Python and Benny Hill (among others) show the inhabitants of the UK as just as human (if not moreso) than the rest of the world. And we are all the richer for it. Alas, the Holy Grail is never actually attained by the seekers, who run into trouble with more French k-nigits and the local constabulary. But, the journey's the thing, so they teach me in seminary, and thus, this journey is well worth following to the end.
The DVD comes with many extras, including the Camelot song being sung by Lego-land figures, and extensive commentary by actors and others involved in the production.
Prepare to be amazed! Prepare to be offended! Prepare the popcorn in advance.
on June 29, 2004
In this Python film, the comedy troupe sets out to make fun of the tale of King Arthur. Every scene in this movie is so funny, sometimes you miss some lines, because you're laughing so much. King Arthur [Graham Chapman] is seeking knights to join his court at Camelot. The first castle that he goes to to look for knights has two bird obsessed guards [you're using coconuts!], so Arthur moves on to a small town[ help, help, I'm being repressed!] but finding no help there continues his quest. He journeys through a forest where he meets the black knight in one of the funniest scenes in movie history [just a fleshwound]. After all this, he finally recruits his first knight, Sir Bedevire. The story then skips to when Arthur has all of his knights, and they go to Camelot. Arthur then decides not to go to Camelot, and when he is leaving is asked by God to find the Holy Grail. All of the knights go they're separate ways. Sir Robin journeys through a forest with his favorite minstrels, Sir Gallahad goes to Castle Anthrax, Sir Lancelot gets a letter of distress to help a prince in need, and Sir Bedevire and King Arthur meet a soothsayer. All of them meet up again, and travel to a cave where the grail is supposedly kept. But guarding the cave is a killer bunny rabbit. After disposing of the rabbit with the holy hand grenade, they must cross the bridge of death. Where they must answer 3 questions, but if they get any wrong, they die. For the love of god see this movie right now. It is the only movie that I can think of where the credits made me laugh[moose trained by...]. So go out and rent this movie, or better yet buy this movie now.