Monty Python and the Holy Grail
There will always be silly movies. The kind of comedies that posses the ability to revert the most staunch and serious adult into the kid on the playground sent into fits of hysterical laughter over a joke based on farting or any one of a number of routine biological functions. A fact of life is the vast majority of films that fall into this category are entertaining enough to watch with friends on a slow after noon but it is exceptionally rare to discover one that ascends to the heights of a truly cinematically significant film. One film that has helped to define the memorable silly flick is considered here; ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’. The elements that differentiates this movie from the myriad of others in its ilk are practically too numerous to list in a format such as this. Not only is the film when taken as a whole distinguishes it but virtually every scene, each exceptionally well crafted bit has become forever infused into the popular culture. From coconut shells to deliberations over the weight of a sparrow or an overly persistent knight any moment contained in this extraordinary film is instantly recognized. While many comedies are affixed in time and place ‘Holy Grail’ has been heralded as timeless. It is difficult to believe that it has been 37 years since I first took new bride to see it in the Waverly Theater down in Greenwich Village during its initial run. Now this movie has joined the ranks of classic movies given the high definition treatment. Watching this Blu-ray version transported me back in time to that first viewing so long ago. Although I can practically lip synch the entire film’s revdialogue it still results in the same uncontrollable fits of laughter I experienced in that good old fashion Movie Theater. Technically this is promoted as the thirty fifth anniversary as mentioned is 37 years old. A matter of being off a couple of years is somehow entirely fitting for a Monty Python production that was built on a complete disregard for the conventions of our society. When you present a ground breaking film like this with the spectacular technical specifications of the format you have something that is special. In fact you might say it something completely different.
There have been a multitude of treatments dealing with the Arthurian legends but most tried to resist dramatic license and retain at least a modicum of what has been deemed as historically possible, the incredibly odd and comically warped members of the Monty Python comedy troupe quickly establishes the line of possibility and manically laughs in its general direction as they blissfully leap over it. While the British are well recognized for they incredibly produced historical dramas they are equally noted for their over the top comedies. Monty Python blazed the trail in this brand of comedy. Back in 1975 the troupe was making a big splash with the youth movement thanks to PBS incentive to bring British humor to the States. This legion of Python fans flocked to the movies to see this feature length film of our favorite group of insane comedians.
Forget anything approaching a linear narrative or even adherence to the natural laws of physics the last thing considered by the screenwriters, troupe members, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin had on their minds was reality. It has been a matter of popular debate as to exactly which psychotropic substances were employed to provide the pharmacological muse for this production. Individually each of these men was certifiable comic geniuses but when working in concert the synergism produced became the humorous equivalent of a super nova. Armed with the miniscule budget of £230,000 these madcap performers set out to make a little film for the amusement of their fans. One famous footnote of the production is that Pink Floyd were avid fans and provided much of the original profits from their enigmatic album, ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ to ensue financing the film. From a historical vantage point this was a very good thing since the film still tops the most noteworthy lists of comic films in history.
This is the kind of film you already own in at least one of its incarnations. I have it on VHS, and DVD but I jumped at the opportunity to revisit this classic in high definition. Not only is there a significant improvement in the quality of audio and video but this edition comes with a fantastic array of extras. The video is a freshly remastered 1.66:1 that pops with color and sports perfect contrast. The audio is greatly enhanced to contemporary standards with crisp DTS-HD Master Audio 5 but for the sticklers for original specification the original mono sound track is also included. A lot of people scream if the video is altered from its original aspect so it reassuring to find a release that affords the same consideration to those out here that want the unenhanced audio as well. This does manifest a much great channel separation than previously heard as well as a broader audio spectrum that embraces the low end very nicely. Among the numerous extras is an app for your iPad, ‘Holy Book of Days’ that does cost an extra five bucks but permits you to directly access your internet connected Blu-ray player to access interviews, trivia and a host of other behind the scenes details that is certain to enthrall the diehard fans. The interviews by various members of the cast us a much appreciated retrospective that comes off like school day recollections over a few pints at the neighborhood pub. This release is as close to the perfect comedy release as you can possibly achieve and will ensure yet another generation make the scared pilgrimage to Castle Anthrax.
The Holy Book of Days Second Screen Experience