MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL ($50) is the legendary British comedy troop’s irreverent and hilarious spin on King Arthur, The Knights of the Round Table and the quest for the Holy Grail. I remember seeing MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL for the first time and laughing myself silly at the combination of sophisticated humor, slapstick and the downright absurdity that the Python troop brought to life in this now classic comedy film. From the rib tickling opening credits to the film’s final blackout there is so much unforgettable humor in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL that I find myself watching the movie over and over again- still laughing at every gag, even though I have them all memorized. Personal favorites include the "Dead Collector," the bloody encounter with The Black Knight and the even bloodier encounter with the killer rabbit. The cast of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL features Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin Connie Booth and Carol Cleveland.
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The transfer of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL proves to be quite good, especially when one considers that the film was release in 1975 and made on a rather small budget. Image quality is more than respectable, but isn’t going to set anyone’s world on fire. A grain structure is readily apparent in a good portion of the presentation and there are individual shots that seem bereft of significant definition. Still, much of the film appears sharper and more detailed than I have seen it look in the past. Colors appear reasonably well saturated much of the time, although there are some shots where the colors are subdued. Blacks are ok, as are the whites, plus the contrast is decent. The element used for the transfer displays its share of age related blemishes, but none are particularly excessive or bothersome. Digital compression artifacts maintain a fairly low profile.
For this release MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL comes with a remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track in addition to the film’s original monaural. The 5.1 channel track seems like a thickened version of monaural, which gives a bit of a spread to the film’s music and an occasional sense of directionality. But then again, there is only so much one can do with dated monaural recordings. Background hiss and surface noise have been reduced on both the 5.1 channel and monaural tracks. In addition, dialogue is intelligible and one can really appreciate the outrageous French accents running through the track. A French language track is also included, plus subtitles have been provided on the DVD in English, French and Spanish. Other subtitle options include the film’s screenplay and text from William Shakespeare's Henry IV Part II, for people who don't like the film.
Appropriately Python-esque animation and sound serves to enhance the interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements that have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features two running commentary tracks; the first is with directors Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, while the second features Michael Palin, Eric Idle, and John Cleese. Of course, the directors’ commentary delivers the nuts and bolts of the production, while the other offers more by way of amusing anecdotes. Follow The Killer Rabbit takes the movie into interactive mode, offering access to supplemental materials every time the "Killer Rabbit" icon appears on screen during the presentation. A Hard of Hearing option is also offered for the disc’s menus.
Disc two offers the remainder of the supplemental programming. Starting things off is a Sing-A-Long for the films musical numbers: Knights of the Round Table, Sir Robin and Monks Chant, all of which offer lyric subtitles. Quest For The Holy Grail Locations runs over forty-five minutes and revisits the film’s locations with Terry Jones and Michael Palin. Under Sacred Relics, one will find Coconuts, a three-minute program that instructs one on the proper use of coconuts for sound effects, while Japanese Version offers two scenes dubbed in Japanese with amusing English subtitles.
Unshot Footage offers Lego Knights; the story told in Lego, while Location Recce is a short featurette that amusingly tries to explain away the film’s budget limitations. Unused Ideas features storyboards for un-filmed sequences. BBC Film Night is an amusing seventeen-minute "on the set" interview with the Python troop. In the Artifacts section, one will find still galleries of artwork and production photos, as well as trailers and character photos. I should note that in addition to the other fine supplement contained on this two-disc set, this Special Collector’s Edition comes packaged in a handsome black box and features a copy of the screenplay, in addition to a film cell from the movie.
MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL remains as screamingly funny as the first time I saw it (more years ago than I care to remember). Columbia has done a fine job with the presentation; with the film looking and sounding far better than it has in previous home incarnations. Additionally, fans will certainly enjoy the nice array of supplemental features, in addition to the copy of the screenplay and film cell. Recommended to every die-hard Python fan.
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