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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

In case you are wondering, this film is just what it claims to be the Python team in search of the Holy Grail. For an hour-and-a-half King Arthur, Lancelot and some of the other knights engage in an assortment of totally ludicrous adventures (I'm not giving anything away.). Even Garwain gets a mention, when he is killed by the most vicious rabbit in Christendom.

For those who find the half-hour TV show cruelly short this should be heaven on earth. It isn't. To watch Monty Python on TV is to be flagellated with humour: this film clearly reveals that it is a process in which brevity plays a vital role.

Parts of Monty Python and the Holy Grail are incredibly funny, and nearly all of it is very well filmed. The result is a combination of endearing silliness and unbelievable audacity, and engrossing cinematography which would have created a first-rate film were it not that the predominant mode of humour precludes any sort of intellectual progression. This missing element is quite rightly anathema to Python humour, yet there is nothing else in its place. The TV show leaves one crying out for more, but halfway through the film one comes to the sad realisation that there is nothing more.

It seems sacreligious to attempt a definition of the Python style of humour, but Holy Grail is an invitation to do just that. There are the widly extravagant claims which are hesitantly pared down, the 'reasonable' man reduced to impotence by his opponent's ridiculous verbal diatribe (remembering that 'ridiculous' is no condemnation), the violence which is so stupid it becomes funny, the sublime importance of the most mundane objects and words, and of course the continual irreverence towards all forms of political, social and religious mores. Terry Gilliam's animation too, offers the same articulated jaws, popping eyes and fantastic chase sequences we are becoming quite accustomed to. And mercifully, the Python team do not hesitate to break the story if the occasion arises, often laughing at us for laughing at them. In this last respect, the sticky problem of winding up a gradually declining tale is solved with marvellous abruptness.

John Cheese and Terry Jones are at times almost brilliant, Michael Palin consistent and Eric Idle and Graham Chapman a little disappointing. The film is worth seeing, but while it never bores, neither does it astonish.

—Simon Wilson.