Wednesday 14 October 2015

Review: Monty Python And The Holy Grail

World of Blackout Film Review

Monty Python And The Holy Grail Poster

Monty Python And The Holy Grail
Cert: 12A / 92 mins / Dir. Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

Ah, what can I say about The Holy Grail? I'm not sure what's more disconcerting, that this film is 40, or that I'm older than this film (not by that much, but still). Even as a lapsed Python fanatic, Holy Grail is the one of their movies*1 I've watched the least. There used to be a VHS copy in the house which was put on throughout many drunken evenings, but only really played from the point it was left at previously, so I've seen all of it in small snippets and in various stages of sobriety but it's rare that I'd watch it as a whole…

So yeah, it's not really a film, is it? More 'loosely-knotted-sketches-in-a-medieval-setting'. Some of those sketches are better than others, some go on for slightly too long after the punchline before petering out, some have no real punchlines at all, the film-quality is patchy, the audio-quality is patchy and the pacing is thoroughly unfocused.

But hey, the majority of the dialogue is pure gold and delivered in a masterful deadpan by the group. While the animated interludes barely cover the holes in the screenplay, the film structure itself plays with the form (particularly with the ongoing police involvement), taunting the audience's expectations and making fun of itself in the process. Most importantly, the script dances between childish flippancy and middle-aged hairsplitting petulance with ease, gleefully wielding the two sharpest weapons in the Python's armoury.

But that's really as much as I want to over-analyse things.
This film's meant to make you laugh; it made me laugh.

The Holy Grail isn't Python at their finest, but may well be them at their silliest…

Technical Notes:
• We got the version of the film with the sing-a-long subtitles. Not a problem, but just thought I'd mention it since it wasn't advertised as such and I'm now wondering if all the anniversary screenings were of this print.
• We also got no adverts or trailers. At all. I arrived just at the beginning of the opening titles, so I didn't miss anything, but other customers were arriving five and ten minutes into the film, no doubt expecting the usual 27-minute buffer zone of promoted products and services. It would have been nice if the tickets/website/app-listing had mentioned that punctuality was essential, Cineworld ;)

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
For the novelty of seeing it back on the big screen, yes. Although…

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
…it's not a difficult film to come by in its many releases, although the Python-faithful will more than likely own several copies anyway ;)

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Graham Chapman is understatedly fantastic in this.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does. The film has seriously low ambitions, but it more-than achieves them.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Since - as much as I love it - it's not actually my favourite Python film, no I won't.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is :)

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Messrs Gilliam, Cleese, Palin, Idle & Jones voiced The Extraterrestrials in this year's Absolutely Anything, the star of which was none other than Simon 'Dengar in the Clone Wars / as-yet-unconfirmed role in The Force Awakens' Pegg.

Absolutely Anything is also, I should point out, a film which I haven't seen/reviewed since it was apparently deemed so awful that it was buried upon its release and shown in as few cinemas as contractually possible by the major chains. Ho-hum.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 By which I mean the three film-films. 'Holy Grail', 'Life Of Brian' and 'Meaning Of Life'. Those are the films. 'And Now For Something Completely Different' doesn't count, and neither does 'Live At The Hollywood Bowl'. But you knew that already.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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