Monty Python and the Holy Grail

United Kingdom, 1975 / 87 Mins

Director: Terry Jones,Terry Gilliam

Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

With their second feature film, the Pythons not only redefined the limits of narrative structure (basically by ignoring them), but also took innovative and unconventional styles of filming and applied them to comedy. The movie sends up costume picture clichés, mythic heroism, educational films, and even subtitles – nonsense rendered with a Swedish accent ("Mynd you, møøse bites kan be pretti nasti.")

The screenplay was a joyous romp through set pieces that sent up the serious, mythic characters at its center. As King Arthur (Graham Chapman) rounds up the gallant Knights of the Round Table to ride to Camelot, he must contend with subjects who are politically unfazed by his divinely-dispensed authority. He must also wield his sword against the Black Knight (John Cleese), a fearsome opponent whose gradual dismemberment fails to quell his desire to fight.

After turning away from Camelot ("It is a silly place," he says despairingly), Arthur sees a miraculous vision of God in the clouds above, who sets forth a task for his knights: find the Holy Grail. ("Good idea, O Lord." " 'COURSE it's a good idea!")

After a disastrous rout at a castle full of taunting French knights, Arthur's band separates in pursuit of the Grail. Sir Lancelot (Cleese) slays a good-sized portion of a wedding party, thinking he is rescuing a damsel in distress; Sir Robin (Eric Idle) escapes an argumentative three-headed knight; Sir Galahad (Michael Palin) is "rescued" from certain temptation at the hands of eight-score blondes between the ages of 16 and 19½. Arthur and Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones), meanwhile, are confronted by the diabolical leader of the Knights Who Say 'Ni' (Palin), who threatens their lives unless they acquire shrubbery.

After regrouping, the knights encounter Tim the Enchanter (Cleese), who tells them the last known location of the Grail may be revealed only once they have battled a terrifying killer rabbit (puppet). The film's climactic battle scene, shot against the beautifully austere backdrop of Castle Stalker, ends – for Arthur – on an unregal, embarrassing note.

Buy Tickets for Monty Python and the Holy Grail Certificate: 12a

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Date Friday 17 April