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I was fortunate to grow up in a pro-Python family. Their bawdy, ridiculous, random sense of humor is hardwired into my DNA. My “Python” love is another trait I attribute to my grandmother. When I was little, she and I used to go to the movies and play “Cinema Roulette” basically buying a ticket for whichever movie was showing next. Well, in the pre-Summer days, she went to the theater and the ticket guy said “The Life of Brian” started a couple of minutes ago… She sat down in the theater to discover a biblical film and was quite pleased with her random choice… Until she saw the woman they cast as the Virgin Mary (Terry Jones) all she could think was “what a horrible woman!” Soon, she realized it was a comedy, which she enjoyed thoroughly, and ever since, all things Python have been a part of our family.
I love all things Python-related whether directly or indirectly, but my favorite Python film is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Why? This film has the BEST villain of all time.
“Behold the cave of Caerbannog!” In the blink of an eye, this vicious foe kills some of the bravest knights of legend. It takes a holy weapon to take out this vicious, cruel beast, with its razor sharp teeth:
And he is a rabbit! This is what I wanted when I read Bunnicula, none of the blanched vegetable business. Caerbannog: mayhem and terror in an adorable bunny rabbit.
Of course, this not the first Rabbit to cause destruction in the film either.
Behold the Trojan Rabbit:
In case you have not noticed this is a rather silly film, and the anachronisms are serendipitous.
For those who have not seen the movie a million times, let me give a brief synopsis. A very random British sketch comedy troupe lampoon the Arthurian legend. God sends King Arthur (Graham Chapman) on a holy quest, to find the Holy Grail, hilarity ensues.
For a comic film, this film boasts incredible production values, with fairly authentic medieval costumes. Yet it is evident the expense went to securing prime locations, costumes, ambient lighting, and properties; there are no horses.
To remedy this lack of horses, Arthur’s manservant Patsy (Terry Gilliam) follows with two coconut shells providing the horse sound effect. There are no horses in the entire film.
In the clip above, you will notice they go on and on about swallows, this pattern is repeated throughout the film and most importantly in the bridge of death scene during the film’s climax, and you might think this is just a random running joke. But you would be mistaken. Readers of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King may recall the overlong ornithological conversations about birds between Merlin and Wart (Young King Arthur). The text, Medievalisms: Making the Past in the Present suggests medieval scholars may notice the connection with the von Strasbourg’s tale of Tristan, there is a passage about a swallow traveling long distances for unusual nesting materials.
Okay, maybe that is stretching things, but it is evident that this film is well researched.
But what makes this film brilliant is the anachronisms.
It is hard to make the medieval world funny because it is removed from our own experience, yet this film succeeds because it taps into a modern response to divine mandates of kingship and power.
See a Marxist Peasant (Michael Palin) responding to the arrival of the King.
By disregarding medieval customs, we get great comedy.
At other times, the comedy lies in adhering to medieval logic Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones) can clearly identify a witch.
This film accurately depicts the grim and gritty life of medieval England but certainly has fun with it.
This movie is hysterical if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it, and if you know it by heart, then by all means treat yourself and see it again.
And beware of Rabbits!
Ciao for now, dearies!