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Monty Python and the Holy Grail
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Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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TV Series
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Life of Brian
The Meaning of Life
The film Monty Python and the Holy Grail is (mostly) a parody of Arthurian legend produced in 1975 by Monty Python. Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones shared directing credit with 40 specially trained Ecuadorian Mountain llamas, 6 Venezuelan Red Llamas, 148 Mexican Whooping Llamas, 14 North Chilean Guanacos (closely related to the llama), Reg Llama of Brixton, and 76000 Battery Llamas from "Llama Fresh Farms Ltd" near Paraguay. Holy Grail was the first film consisting of all-new material made by the members of Monty Python.

The DVD of the film commences with the British Board of Film Censors certification for Dentist on the Job, a film "Passed as more suitable for Exhibition to Adult Audiences", followed by its grainy black and white opening titles. In the opening scene of Dentist on the Job the projectionist (played by Terry Jones) suddenly realises it is the wrong film and puts the correct one on. (Dentist on the Job was a notably poor 1960 comedy starring Bob Monkhouse, perhaps chosen as an epitome of the comedy that Monty Python was providing an alternative to.) The credits for Holy Grail have (spurious) Swedish subtitles and many references to the moose.

Table of contents
1 Plot
2 Home Video Editions
3 Dedications
4 Spinoffs
5 See also
6 External links


Warning: Plot details follow.

The Holy Grail has a very loose plot line with a style based on the sketch comedy of Monty Python's earlier television show. Most of the story is told in isolated bits, linked only by the ongoing theme of the quest for the Holy Grail.

The story more or less follows the adventures of King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights of the Round Table across England in their search for the Holy Grail. On the way, the brave knights and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-so-Brave (Eric Idle) encounter the Black Knight, the perils of Castle Anthrax, the Knights who say Ni (later known as the Knights who say "Ekky-ekky-ekky-ekky-z'Bang zoom-Boing z'nourrrwringmm"), a blood-thirsty rabbit (which they deal with using the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch), and a gigantic cartoon monster (they are saved when the animator (Terry Gilliam), suffers a fatal heart attack.) There are other misadventures involving anarcho-syndicalist peasants, an alleged witch (Connie Booth), the King of Swamp Castle and his musical son, Herbert, an enchanter called "Tim", the Bridge of Death (guarded by the Crazy Old Man from Scene 24), and Frenchmen (led by John Cleese) who revel in taunting the travellers, without much success (or, indeed, understanding).

At a number of key places in the film the question is raised, what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? It is introduced in the opening scenes of the film, and remains an open question right up to the end. The only answer which King Arthur gives is: "African or European?" This is as much a running gag as a macguffin.

Sir Robin's minstrels (their leader played by Neil Innes) sing of how brave he would hypothetically be in the face of horrific and graphically-described tortures, and then sing about how bravely he flees at the first sign of danger. Much to Sir Robin's relief, he and the other knights are later forced to eat the minstrels.

The film ends abruptly when a group of police from the 1970s interrupt the climactic battle scene to arrest King Arthur. The Grail presumably is left in the hands of the Frenchmen in Castle Aaaargh.

Home Video Editions

Among the many home-video releases of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the DVD "Special Edition" is most recommended for its exhaustive list of special features, including two commentary tracks, documentaries related to the film, and "Subtitles For People Who Don't Like the Film," consisting of lines taken from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II, specially selected to match the film's dialogue.


A number of video games pay homage to this movie, an indication of its huge following in geek culture.

In Conquests of Camelot there is an Easter egg. In the treasury, when the user types "ask about ham and jam and spam a lot", three knights will appear on the screen dancing the "Spamalot" theme. Then a text window appears mentioning that this Easter egg is dedicated to the memory of Chapman.

In Quest for Glory I, a gargoyle will ask the user questions that are inspired form the Bridge of Death scene. Also, in the IV of the series, one of the monsters you encounter is the killer rabbit.

In addition, New World Computing's computer game Heroes of Might and Magic III has a number of cheat codes, all of which are references to this movie. All the cheat codes are preceded with "nwc," the developer's initials, followed by the reference. For example, typing in nwcshrubbery (a reference to Arthur's encounter with the Knight who say Ni) rewards the player with 100,000 gold and 100 of every resource. The code nwcalreadygotone rewards the player with a full Grail map, nwcsirrobin immediately loses the game and nwccoconuts gives unlimited movement. There are many more cheat codes in the game and all in some way reference this comedy classic.


A musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail will open in Chicago on December 21 2004. The musical is titled Spamalot, a reference to the popular Spam sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus as well as to the line from a song in the film: "We dine well here in Camelot/ We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot." Eric Idle wrote the musical's book, and he collaborated with John Du Prez for the music and lyrics. It is being directed by Mike Nichols but will feature none of the original Python actors. Well-known actors will include David Hyde Pierce (from the television show Frasier), Tim Curry (popular cult actor from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Clue), and Hank Azaria (voice actor from The Simpsons).

See also

External links