Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Oh, the silliness.
With its surreal animations, random musical numbers and ricocheting timelines, make no mistake—HOLY GRAIL is absolutely loony; loony but oh, so clever. Think of it as low-brow high art. And there are very few comedies that have as ridiculously high a rewatch value as this one, where you can speak along with every line of dialogue but still laugh regardless. The credit for that no doubt goes to Chapman, Cleese, Idle, Palin, Jones and Gilliam for their masterful (and multiple) performances, as well as the sharp, offbeat writing. The Black Knight, the burning of the witch-duck, spankings at the Castle Anthrax, the Bridge of Death…I could list just about every scene in the movie and it would (should) ring a bell.
Like a lot of people, for a long time I was not a big fan of the abrupt, anticlimactic ending. However, the more times I see the movie the more I think it in fact fits nicely. It may be random, but that’s truly keeping in line with the rest of the picture. Heck, try to imagine another more satisfying conclusion. [waits] Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I suppose if you’re not a fan of silly or “British” humor (whatever that means), MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL might be an acquired taste. Otherwise, if you enjoy constantly laughing until you vomit up cottage cheese you didn’t even eat, then consider this movie a true classic and a masterpiece of absurdity.
Ignoring any previous versions, this edition is fantastic, an entire experience unto itself. The packaging, menus and extras are all pure Python in tone and quality. You could spend an hour just watching the menus and laughing out loud.
Commentary by Eric Idle, John Cleese and Michael Palin: It’s awesome hearing these three back together again, displaying their reactions to the insanity of the film and comedy in general. A very entertaining and informative track and I love the early potshot they take at Gilliam’s post-Python “morbid and depressing” directing career.
Commentary by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones: The more serious of the two commentaries, done by the men who actually directed the movie. Gilliam hasn’t watched the film in quite sometime, so his surprised observations are amusing. And to keep things from complete solemnity, Jones purportedly is wearing a dress throughout the commentary.
Follow the Killer Rabbit Feature: Whenever the rabbit pop up on the screen, select it and you’ll be treated to complementing storyboards, special effects notes and other behind the scenes goodness.
Subtitles for People Who Don’t Like This Film: Excerpts from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” are displayed for your alternate enjoyment.
Onscreen Screenplay: Read the movie in script form as you watch it.
Special Feature for the Hard of Hearing: Have the main menu yelled at you.
Sing-Alongs: Entertain your friends by demonstrating your harmonic abilities to the film’s three “musical sequences.” With bonus instructions on how to properly flog yourself during the monk’s chant.
Quest for the Holy Grail Locations (46:52): Twenty-five years after it’s release, Michael Palin and Terry Jones return to the film’s major locations (in sequential order) in this fantastic documentary. With a laptop in tow to watch the accompanying scenes, the pair reminisce about filming the movie, talk to the locals about the film’s impact and widespread fanbase and generally just have a good time. The field where they shot the killer rabbit sequence looks so peaceful without the deranged rodent staining it with blood.
How to User Your Coconuts (3:01): A government-sponsored educational film starring Michael Palin that explains how to make your own horse-galloping sound effects.
Japanese Version (8:33): Two scenes from the Japanese dubbed version of the movie. Kind of stupid, but the Japanese Knight who says Ni garners a laugh or two.
BBC Film Night (17:09): A segment from a 1975 British TV show that went behind the scenes as the movie had just begun filming. It’s a good chronicle of the atmosphere on set and the difficulty of shooting something so complexly strange (i.e. having to figure out how to make it rain chickens upon the cast). In the interviews the young Terry Gilliam looks and sounds like he’s on angel dust. (So that’s how he makes such awesome movies!)
Lego Knights: A version of the Camelot song done entirely with Lego men. I remember seeing this on the Internet many years ago, and its still pretty amazing how exact it is shot for shot.
Location Recce (2:16): A quick mockumentary of location scouting done for the movie in places like Yugoslavia and Hawaii.
The Holy Grail Challenge: Quizzes of varying difficulty (by the last tier you’re asked things like “How much did lunch cost for all the extras?”). In true Python fashion, they’ve also included a Quiz For People Who Don’t Like The Film.
A Taste of Spamalot: An extended preview of songs from the Grammy-winning Python musical, complete with Gilliam artwork.
Secrets of the Holy Grail: A preview for this very DVD mocking the DA VINCI CODE.
Unused Ideas: A bunch of random sketches done by Gilliam that are so strange that there’s no way they were actually consider for inclusion in the film. Or were they?
Old Rubbish: A collection of old reviews, advertisements, press releases and articles read to you by Terry Jones.
Some Artwork, Photos, and a very helpful Cast Breakdown that shows who played what roles.
The Album of the Soundtrack to the Trailer of the Film of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (47:11): A CD version of the movie, half audio excerpts from the film itself and half skits/commentary from the cast, performed live at the Silbury Hill Theater. There’s enough very funny original content and lampooning of the actual movie to make this worth a listen, even if you already know every line by heart.
Extra Tidbit: When nobody else would finance this movie, Pink Floyd swooped in on their magnificent steeds and paid for it themselves with the profits from Dark Side of the Moon. Just when you thought Pink Floyd couldn’t be any greater…