When I was young and foolish, I was quite a fan of Monty Python. Not only the oft repeated TV series, but also the films — especially Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
I’m old and foolish now and it recently occurred to me that I haven’t actually watched any Monty Python for several years. Now seems to be a good time to rectify this.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a film from which I can still quote large chunks of dialogue and yet, watching it again, it steel feels as fresh and funny as ever — if not funnier.
Graham Chapman plays King Arthur as he gathers together his Knights of the Round Table and, after a short detour in which he decides that Camelot is too silly, sends them on a quest to find the Holy Grail.
Narratively speaking, the Pythons’ TV origins are very much on display here, with a very simple plot that primarily serves as an excuse to embark on a series of medieval themed sketches, many of which are very silly indeed.
With hindsight, these sketches can be a bit hit and miss. Some of them I remembered perfectly from the last time I saw this film, others not so much, and there were some that I had completely forgotten about. That said, the jokes come so thick and so fast that the comedy never stops and I found myself laughing heartily from beginning to end.
As with much of the Pythons’ output, the silliness is perfectly timed, incredibly funny and remarkably satirical. The Pythons excelled at puncturing pomposity and poking fun at the sort of religious and political fanaticism that so often defies any kind of sense.
Even the ending has grown on me. I used to feel it was a bit of a cheat but, on this rewatch, it does fit the tone of the film and works remarkably well.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is still one of the funniest films ever made and, even today, 35 years after it was first released, the film still feels as fresh and relevant as ever — if not more so.
Updated to note that this film was released 45 years ago. Not 35. I can’t do subtraction any more.