MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL
Extraordinarily Deluxe Edition
Review by Michael Jacobson
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones,
Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.66:1
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: October 3, 2006
“No, on second thought,
let’s not go to Camelot. It is a
don’t think there’s a comedy film that brings me such a sense of nostalgia
as does Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
In high school, there was no other film that we knew so much by heart
and quoted so frequently. Some of
my friends even won awards adapting the script into oral interpretation for
speech contests. Amazing,
considering the movie was nearly fifteen years old at the time.
is perhaps the most popular, and certainly one of the funniest, of the Python
pictures. From the opening credits,
with the “Swedish” subtitles, you know you’re in for something silly and
irreverent, but also quite smart. Listen
to how the peasants bicker and argue about politics, for example, and how they
react to Arthur’s (Chapman) stirring recounting of the Lady of the Lake
legend. “Strange women lying in
ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government”, one
is the comic equal of the other members of the troupe, but it is when he plays
the straight man, as in this film, that he services best.
His bewilderment at trying to recruit knights for his Round Table is
hysterical. Those he tries to talk
to either belabor moot points, or taunt him, or even fight him (the Black Knight
sequence is as funny and twisted as they come).
are many classic comedy bits in the movie.
My favorites are the musical numbers, including the “Sir Robin” song,
and the cabaret style “Camelot”. No
matter how many times I’ve seen that last one, it still always floors me.
And who could forget the Knights Who Say “Ni!”, the Bridge of Death,
the farcical Frenchmen, the Trojan rabbit, and of course, the vicious, deadly
bunny rabbit that protects the caves.
Python was definitely never a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
This team was just the right blend of comic geniuses, who saw humor in
anything and everything, from the intellectual to the silly, from the sacred to
the profane. And Terry Gilliam’s
classic animations were the perfect touch to enhance the lunacy.
six guys were truly the Beatles of comedy…original and daring enough to bring
their art form to the next level, and leaving a legacy of work that never seems
to age. And, of course, no matter
how much success each member has achieved apart from the group, he will likely
always be remembered first and foremost for being a part of Python.
myself to never seeing a good looking version of Holy Grail on home
video, I’m pleased to report that this new transfer is indeed a holy grail.
Some side by side comparisons make the differences very obvious.
Colors are brighter now, with richer tones, and the overall look is less
murky and more crisp. Gone is much
of the troublesome grain and loss of detail in lower light shots.
Flesh tones are better, lines are more distinct, and overall, the print
seems quite a bit cleaner. This is
what Python fans have been waiting for!
In comparing the original mono with the new 5.1 mix,
I didn’t discover a lot of discreet uses of the rear channel, but overall, the
sound is much fuller and much more opened up.
The front stage is quite active, with plenty of good panning effects,
while the rear carries a bit of the music.
The .1 channel isn’t used much during the movie, but actually comes
into play during the menu screens, which feature 5.1 sound.
All in all, a worthy effort.
This three disc set is as packed as you could want.
For starters, slip in Disc One and enjoy the merry menu screens a la
Terry Gilliam’s animation. Amongst
the regular selections, you’ll notice, is one that says “Hard of Hearing”.
Select IT, and you’ll hear the menu choices read out to you quite
loudly. Funny stuff!
There are two terrific, funny and informative commentary tracks.
The first is the original Criterion one with Terry Gilliam and Terry
Jones (the directors), the second features cast mates Michael Palin, John Cleese
and Eric Idle. Both are
entertaining listens, especially for those of us who already know the movie by
also has a couple of unique subtitle features…one shows the screenplay in
print as the movie plays, while another, for non-Python fans, are subtitles
“taken from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part II”.
They’re actually quite funny, and worth a look!
One concludes with a “Killer Rabbit” feature.
Activate it, and whenever a rabbit appears on screen during the movie,
use ‘enter’ on your remote for either notes from Terry Gilliam or from the
accountant (for him, the rabbit appears with visor, glasses and a pound sign).
and when you hit “Play Movie”, don’t think you’re seeing things.
Enjoy the extra laugh.
On to Disc Two, which starts with three sing-alongs, including “Sir Robin”, “Camelot”, and “Monk’s Chant”. There are many featurettes, including an “educational” short with Michael Palin on how to make sounds with coconuts, a 45 minute piece with Palin and Terry Jones on the locations in the film, clips from the movie in Japanese (I assume the subtitles equate to what the Japanese words are…if so, some are pretty amusing!). There is “On Location with the Pythons”, an original 1974 BBC featurette, photos, two trailers, a Lego version of the “Camelot” number (has to be seen to be believed), sketches, storyboards, talent files, posters, and even a Blair Witch spoof.
There's also "A Taste of Spamalot"; an animated medley of songs from the hit Broadway show, a new trivia challenge, and a new "Secrets of the Holy Grail" to reveal...well, more than you thought you knew. And there's also a bonus third disc...it's a soundtrack CD!