Monday, September 8, 2008

MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones, 1975, UK) King Arthur must assemble the finest knights to seek the Holy Grail; he must challenge the foreboding black knight, face the taunting French invaders and their catapulting livestock, outwit the Knights Who Say Ni, fight the fanged beast of Caerbannog and pass the deadly rite of passage by answering these questions three with the old man from scene 24. Bedevere must design a Trojan Rabbit to gain surprise access to the French castle, defeating their foes. Brave Sir Robin follows Certain Death (1 Kilometer) and bravely runs away from the three-headed knight, his pants soiled…but innards intact. Lancelot defeats an arranged marriage by employing his own idiom; fountains of blood and gore almost spoil the ceremony. Sir Galahad the Chaste stands bravely erect in the mouth of certain doom but is rescued by Lancelot’s sword. And Tim the Enchanter leads this god-fearing ensemble towards their ultimate destiny: the final resting place of the golden chalice. Soon the present and past collide: as our heroes rush the castle of Arghhh the local Bobbies arrest them on suspicion of murder. The Python Troup once again turns reality upside down, satirizing the Arthurian legend, Documentary filmmaking, and the Historical fiction genre conventions in particular: nothing is sacred including Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL with the witch burning and flagellant sequences, the Crusades, and the gruesome Bubonic Plague. Set detail and design is terrifically composed and this era is shown boils, filth, and all. Gilliam and Jones direction is top-notch with hilarious crosscutting, well-composed shots, surreal credit sequences, and ironic musical cues. The Pythons find absurd and snarky humor in the four humors: blood, phlegm, choler, and bile. (A+)

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