Cat abuse, snooty French guards, perilous virgins, animated monsters, killer rabbits, holy hand grenades, clacking coconuts, and Knights Who Say “Nee” were just a few of the zany contributions from the madcap Monty Python group to the Arthurian legend, in the 1975 film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Using their particular revolutionary brand of absurdist comedy perfected in their Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV show, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin created their own cult legend by playing no less than thirty-seven characters between them. The film itself was made possible by the band Pink Floyd, who donated earnings from their album Dark Side of the Moon because they were such big fans. With filming venturing from Hampstead Heath to Doune Castle, Glen Coe Hills to Castle Stalker, Monty Python and the Holy Grail finally gave insight into the question “What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”
King Arthur (Chapman) scours the countryside in search of knights to sit at his round table. Although beset by peasantry in favor of a more representational form of government and an insulting French castle guard, he eventually succeeds in bringing several other knights to his banner. But God (Chapman voicing an animated portrait of 19th Century English Cricketer W.G. Grace) intervenes, commanding the group to go in search of the Holy Grail. Each member splits off in his own quest. Among them: Galahad (Palin) braving a castle full of nymphomaniacal virgins; Lancelot slaughtering a bridal party to rescue the effeminate Prince Herbert; Arthur slicing the limbs off a bridge-guarding black knight. Some less heralded knights also appear: Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot dashes away from a three headed giant. Eventually, the knights reconvene for the final foray to the castle where the Grail is kept.
Hysterical by any standard, few comedies are as oft-quoted as Monty Python and the Holy Grail. From “she’s got huge… tracts of land,” to “I fart in your general direction,” few films are as universally recognized, let alone beloved as this one. While the quest for the Grail continues, the quest for laughter can be found within this beloved adventure.
If you are a fan of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we hope you’ll take a moment to share a memory or two in our comments section, as we tip our hats to a cult classic that has withstood the test of time, and then some.