The film's mock-Arthurian narrative provides a sturdy framework for the jokes, and the authentic-looking production design is relentlessly and gloriously dirty. The miniscule budget turns out to be one of the film's greatest assets: Can't afford horses? Use coconuts instead. No money for special effects? Let Terry Gilliam animate. And so on, from Camelot ("it's only a model") to the rampaging killer rabbit glove puppet. True it's let down a little by a rushed ending, and the jokes lack the sting of Life of Brian's sharply observed satire, but Holy Grail is still timeless comedy that's surely destined for immortality.
On the DVD: Disc One contains a digitally remastered anamorphic (16:9) print of the film--which is still a little grainy, but a big improvement on previous video releases--with a splendidly remixed Dolby 5.1 soundtrack (plus an added 24 seconds of self-referential humour "absolutely free"!). There are two commentaries, one with the two Terrys, co-directors Jones and Gilliam, the other a splicing together of three separate commentaries by Michael Palin, John Cleese (in waspish, nit-picking mood) and Eric Idle. A "Follow the Killer Rabbit" feature provides access either to the Accountant's invoices or Gilliam's conceptual sketches. Subtitle options allow you to read the screenplay or watch with spookily appropriate captions from Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II.
The second disc has lots more material, much of it very silly and inconsequential (an educational film on coconuts, the Camelot song in Lego and so on), plus a long-ish documentary from 2001 in which Palin and Jones revisit Doune Castle, Glencoe and other Scottish locations. Perhaps best of all, though, are the two scenes from the Japanese version with English subtitles, in which we see the search for the Holy sake cup, and the Ni-saying Knights who want... bonsai! --Mark Walker
The thing with this film is that everyone has seen it and it's become part of our general culture. Bits of it just crop up everywhere, especially in computer games.
The first time I watched this there were some bits I really loved like the Trojan Rabbit, Robin's minstrels, Sir-Not-Appearing-in-this-Film, the moose thing, the Camelot song, the burn the witch scene, and of course, Terry Gilliam's animations. However, it all really grew on me and I love it now and can quote everything along with the best, and most annoying, of them!
Buy this! It is genius and the actors are brilliant. Long live Monty Python! This film is a national treasure and should be treated as such! Amen.
The film basically consists of a series of sketches and set pieces arranged in a roughly chronological order. There are superb performances from all the actors, with John Cleese's wonderful turn as Sir Lancelot and Michael Palin in the role of Sir Galahad being the outstanding ones.
The sheer number of hilarious scenes in this film simply beggars belief. Every scene is a masterpiece of comedy, even the much-maligned final scene. Not even "The Life of Brian" can make that claim, brilliant though it is.
The bottom line is that generations of people in Britain and around the world have enjoyed Monty Python for most of their lives. This is true because of the towering comic genius of the six men involved. This film is, quite simply, Monty Python at their best.
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