Wednesday, September 7, 2016
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975)
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *irony*
CAMPBELLIAN FUNCTION: *sociological*
HOLY GRAIL is an eminently quotable movie, but an uneven one as well. For all the jokes that work-- the Black Knight sequence, "I fart in your general direction," the riddle-game of the Bridge of Death-- there are as many jokes that fall flat, like the Castle of Aaaargh and "she weighs the same as a duck."
Though I've reviewed a lot of spoofs in the domain of the marvelous, GRAIL isn't one of them. The Python-script is more properly an irony-drenched satire than a comedy, and one that constantly interrupts its own diegesis by calling attention to its artificiality. For example:
(1) The film starts off with a clip from an unrelated British film, DENTIST ON THE JOB, and then begins the real credits, which include unsanctioned ads, for which the credit-makers are, we are told, "sacked."
(2) The Legendary Black Beast of Aaaarrrggghhh, who is represented by an animation of a multi-eyed critter, only misses killing all of Arthur's knights because his extra-diegetic animator drops dead of a heart attack.
(3) The big combat-scene at the film's end is interrupted by British bobbies, who cart off most of the knights to the pokey.
The helter-skelter Arthurianisms are constantly treated as "fallacious figments," thus aligning the film with works like the 2013 LONE RANGER and the 1968 HEAD.