Kings of Silly
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Review by Ross Anthony

John Cleese and Eric Idle show up at the Nuart Theater in Santa Monica (06/15/01) to send off the re-release of the digitally re-mastered version of "Monty Python's Holy Grail" (complete with 23 seconds of never-before-seen footage).

I extend my hand to John (who's an absolute gentleman) and ask, "So what's your favorite part of the film."

John shakes my hand, tilting his head slightly, "Oh, I think I liked the bit when the French taunters dish out their abuse. But don't ask me to recite lines, because I can't remember any." He smiles, "I remember when we were putting together a Saturday Night Live skit and they asked us for some of the lines from the film. We couldn't remember any. But you now what? You can just go out on the street and ask those people, they'll know."

Soon enough John and Eric step into the sold out Nuart to a standing ovation. At the microphone John says, "Twenty-seven years later, it's so nice of you all to come see this little ol' movie."

Eric quips, "Took you long enough to get here."

The MC speaks in Python-ese, not afraid to spew abuse toward the stars, all in good fun of course. The seven or so costumed contestants say a few words, flip a few fingers at the sometimes-disagreeable audience and step to the side as John and Eric loosely judge their Grail-apparel. (The child won). Next, four nervous quoters rattle off lines from the film, each given two minute spots. John and Eric smile, chuckle and watch.

Swiftly enough the curtains open: Medieval England, King Arthur begins his mission from God ... a quest for the Holy Grail. This is certainly one journey whose means are definitely more important than its ends. Arthur, joined by several knights of the roundtable, bumbles from one silly obstacle to the next. Frenchmen catapult livestock from a castle they've built in England. Nimrods decide the fate of a might-be witch, "What floats in water?" The dolts consider, "Bread!" "Apples?" "very small rocks." The intimidating Knights Who Say Ni! demand an appropriate sacrificial gift in exchange for passage ... a nice shrubbery ought to do the trick. But soon enough they change their names and their minds, "Now you must go deep into the forest and cut down the tallest tree with a herring."

A cult classic and a lot of silly fun. I laughed so hard at the Eric Idle/guard scene that tears were falling off my face. Easily the highlight of the evening as Eric was seated directly behind me. He giggled most (even snorted once) during the opening sequence where King Arthur tries to explain who he is to oblivious peasant field workers. "Who are the Britons?" They ask. Arthur grunts, "You are the Britons, we are all Britons, and I am your King."

  • Fun Facts:
  • Finances for the film came from the rock and roll business
  • Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber, a number of record companies and theater impresario Michael White.
  • A clip from the film is used by the FBI as part of its training program.
  • A video copy of the film was kept on the Mir Space Station.
  • In Budapest there is a marionette version of the film.
  • Monty Python's Holy Ale is available in select UK and US pubs.
  • Graham Chapman left his career as a doctor to be silly on film.
  • Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam co-directed the film because nobody else wanted to. Their diverse (sometimes friction-producing) styles eventually added up to the brilliant picture we know and love today. Btw, the cinematographer is also a Terry.
  • Michael Palin is really eating chocolate, not mud.
  • According to Palin, no one wanted to sacrifice the chance of playing lots of silly smaller roles in order to play one big one. Ultimately, Chapman accepted.
  • Terry Gilliam went on to become one of film's many respected directors. His "Brazil" is often studied in film schools. His is a fantastical ability to make viewing films feel like imagining.
  • Some years ago, I sent a copy of my "Rodney Appleseed" to Terry Gilliam in hopes that he'd be swept off his feet with the book's irresistible adventurous surreal fantasy, and then, unable to contain his excitement, immediately produce it into film. His wife called me from London, but unfortunately, lesser projects abducted his attention. Hey, Terry ... it's not too late, Produce Rodney!

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Copyright © 1975 re-release 2001. Rated PG.
  • Starring and Written by John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin.
  • Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones.
  • Produced by Mark Forstater at Python (Monty) Pictures.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:03:48 PDT