Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a comedy film from 1974. It was written, performed, and directed by Monty Python, an English comedy group, during a gap between the third and the ﬁnal series of their popular BBC television series Monty Python's Flying Circus. more...
The group's ﬁrst film, And Now For Something Completely Different, had been a compilation of sketches from the television series; in contrast, Holy Grail was composed of wholly original material. Based loosely on the legend of King Arthur's quest to find the Holy Grail, the film was a success on its initial run and retains a large-scale cult following today.
Monty Python was famous for parodying the conventions of television and motion picture formats, often including fake continuity announcements or using the opening and closing credits as part of the humour. As a continuation of this, the opening credits of Holy Grail co-credited several fictional directors, including "40 specially trained Ecuadorian Mountain llama's, 6 Venezuelan Red Llamas, 142 Mexican Whooping Llamas, 14 North Chilean Guanaco's (Closely related to the llama), Reg Llama of Brixton, and 76000 Battery Llamas from 'Llama Fresh Farms Ltd' near Paraguay". According to the group's DVD commentary track, they were included in part to save on the film's budget.
In reality, the film was directed by series regular Terry Jones and the group's American animator, Terry Gilliam, who also drew the film's linking animations and opening credits. Along with their co-stars, Jones and Gilliam performed several roles in the film. There were prominent speaking parts for songwriter Neil Innes, John Cleese's then-wife Connie Booth, and Carol Cleveland, who had appeared several times in the group's television series. The experiment with co-direction on Holy Grail proved to be a one-off, as it led to creative friction, but both Jones and Gilliam went on to have successful careers as directors. Gilliam, in particular, found that his training as an animator did not lend itself to directing human beings, although his sense of the graphic – which would come to prominence with later films such as Time Bandits and Brazil - has ensured that Holy Grail remains visually impressive, despite a budget of about £150,000 (Source: DVD Commentary). This money was raised in part with donations from rock groups such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
The film was shot on location in Scotland, particularly around Doune Castle, Glen Coe, and the privately-owned Castle Stalker. As a consequence of the low budget, the film had to make-do without horses. Instead, the actors banged together coconut shells to imitate the sound of horse's hooves (Actually shown explicitly on screen for comical effect.) The chain mail armour worn by the various knights was actually silver-painted wool, whilst the many castles seen throughout the film were either Doune Castle shot from different angles, or cardboard models held up against the horizon.
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