Monty Python and the Holy Grail parody of the classic Arthurian tale establishes itself as a legendary cult film, with its near absurdity driving the comical point of the Python's second movie. During the interval between the Pythons third and fourth season of the Pythons comedy show, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, the Pythons decision to film Monty Python and the Holy Grail didn't anticipate the level of critical and cult adoration that would engulf it for over forty years.
Following the legendary King Arthur, Sir Lancelot the Brave, Sir Galahad the Pure, Sir Bedevere the Wise, and Sir Robin the-Not-Quite-So-Brave-as -Sir-Lancelot on their quest for the Holy Grail. The band of knights travel circuitously across medieval England,(though the movie was filmed in Scotland) only to end up arrested in modern day England for the murder of a historian. The whimsical meandering of King Arthur and his Knights may come off as simplistic, and it is because it is that simplicity which allow the Pythons to truly sell the Pythons mastercraft: comedy.
As the Pythons were on hiatus between the third and fourth season of their BBC television series, Monty Pythons Flying Circus. Since the Pythons were already together for 5 years and several knew each other prior to the formation of the Pythons, this extended experience as a group explains the strong chemistry between the members of the Pythons. This chemistry enables Monty Python and the Holy Grail to have precise clarity in its brilliant madness. The film was written and directed exclusively by some of the Pythons, the starring cast, and this structure enabled the precise vision of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Though it isn't a skit compilation, the Pythons comedy routines are primarily skits.
This background influences the structure of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Each scene can hold its weight autonomously, but there is a clear undercurrent of the plot or tone of the movie in each sequence, a detail likely to have been muddled or lost completely if the Pythons didn't have the chemistry they had. If chemistry was nonexistent, Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be a series of absurd sketches one after another, and not a film.
It is the tone where the Pythons chemistry shines though, because whenever a hint of seriousness in the riotous comedy can be detected, it is convincingly snuffed out by the revelation that the band of knights assumption was totally off. Take for instance, the Black Knight. Spotted successfully sparring against the Green knight, the Black Knight piques the interest of King Arthur, who is scouring the country for able knights to join him on his mission. King Arthur offers the Black Knight a place in his band of Knights, but the Black knight responds sternly with, None shall pass! Despite Arthurs status as King of the Britons, the Black Knight stubbornly blocks King Arthurs passage. King Arthur reluctantly duels the Black Knight as effortlessly defeats the fierce Black Knight.
Even though the Black Knight is clearly outmatched, he continues to fight, which results in the eventual loss of all of his limbs, indignantly insisting that he (the Black Knight) hasn't lost yet. Eventually after losing all of his limbs, the Black Knight concedes that he drew with Arthur. This type of pattern occurs in nearly all of the scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Arthur and his knights initial assessment of the situation is off, or there is an overt anachronism referenced to catch the audience off guard, causing them to laugh. The mud farmers are a prime example of anachronism, as it references Marxist ideology, which wouldn't have existed during medieval times. Marxism certainly exists in modern times, and was more relevant in the mid 1970s when the film was created.
Other anachronisms include the iconic coconuts, which are directly referenced as such, and the appearance of the police at the end of the film.Though the ending of Stop That! is overly abrupt and awkward, it fails to pin down the rest of the cult classic that is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Any movie that can last 40 years and still manage to attract a new audience shouldn't Stop That!.
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