Arts & Culture

Grimy Gold: ‘Tis But a Scratch!

Title: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Year: 1975

Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones

MPAA Rating: PG



[The scene is an idyllic English countryside, grubby peasants scraping a meager living out the harsh rocky soil
with their bare hands. A few serfs here and there carry what pathetic foodstuffs they have gathered up the road
toward some castle or other.]
[Enter ARTHUR and PATSY, on the road toward the castle. Enter DENNIS, presumably a serf, pulling an empty
cart in the same direction.]
ARTHUR: Old woman!
ARTHUR: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
DENNIS: I’m thirty-seven.
DENNIS: I’m thirty-seven. I’m not old!
ARTHUR: Well, I can’t just call you ‘Man.’
DENNIS: Well, you could say ‘Dennis.’
ARTHUR: Well, I didn’t know you were called ‘Dennis.’
DENNIS: Well, you didn’t bother to find out, did you?
ARTHUR: I did say sorry about the ‘old woman,’ but from the
behind you looked—
DENNIS: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior!
ARTHUR: Well, I am king…
DENNIS: Oh king, eh? Very nice. [stops, as do ARTHUR and PATSY] An’ how’d you get that, eh? By exploitin’
the workers, by ’angin’ on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic an’ social differences in
our society!

A few years ago, a monumental chick flick by the name of Deadpool landed in theaters. As you probably can tell, I’m being sarcastic. It was no chick flick, but a raunchy superhero film that broke nearly every film convention to hilarious proportions. Now imagine that again, but this time, instead of a vulgar superhero, insert a horseless king on a low budget quest to find a shiny cup. And you now have the momentous 1975 classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Headed by the comic geniuses of Gilliam and Jones, Monty Python provides scene after scene of belly-laughing jokes originating from the quirkiest and most memorable characters ever to be placed onto the big screen. From the Knights Who Say “Ni!” to the Killer Rabbit, each of the characters bestows uniquely silly obstacles on the poor King. None of these scenes and characters are linked to the next in the narrative—each scene stands on its own like an SNL skit. You could potentially watch almost all the scenes out of order, and it would lose no more than an ounce of its comedic effect. However, this face creates a fundamental flaw in this otherwise perfect film.

It’s a collection of comedy sketches of sorts, but it sports no linking theme or story other than the character of King Author and his semi-goal of finding the Grail. Maybe you aren’t looking for a stronger central plot, but I’m wondering, what if there was one? Would the movie have been even stronger in its effect? I’d say yes, and my position is reinforced by one scene near the end where this occurs, to surprising effect. In this particular scene, a curious Bridgekeeper prods a character about swallows, a reference an early scene involving knowledge about the miniature birds. The callback to the early gag caught me off guard and added to my laughter. If this works so well there, why aren’t there more running gags like this to raise this film’s strengths to a whole new level?

Some audience members may find the slightly blasphemous content problematic. It certainly instigates debates as to how far is too far concerning jokes about God. There’s also some mild but rare language, and a scene plays out where a few female characters are nearly begging for inappropriate compromise, but the scene doesn’t push it further than their request.

Even without these issues, this comedy is already one for the ages. With a few misses, the jokes hit home with sincere hilarity. Not many movies have proved to be this rewatchable generation after generation. Even 42 years after its release, it’s still popular in many circles and has thrived through its fans’ constant viewings. I can imagine in another 420 years, our descendants populating Mars will plop this into some holographic movie device thingamajig and roar with laughter at the Black Knight’s ridiculous antics.

Quality rating: 7.5/10

Content rating: 5/10

*This is an excerpt from an actual scene taken from the screenplay of Monty Python and the Holy Grail which can be found here.

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  1. lol it looks like you really like this movie, but only gave it a 5/10

    • That’s the content rating. It is my judgement on how appropriate content-wise a film is for Christian conservative audiences. The quality rating is the rating I give describing how much I enjoyed the film, disregarding content appropriateness.

  2. So if she weighs the same as a duck…..then she’s made of wood?
    Exactly! And?
    So she’s a witch?! BURN HER!!!!

  3. PEASANTS. We found a witch we found a witch! May we burn ‘er?
    SIR BEDEVIRE. How do you know she’s a witch?
    PEASANTS. She looks like one!
    SIR BEDEVIRE. Bring her forward!
    WITCH. I’m not a witch, I’m not a witch!
    SIR BEDEVIRE. But you are dressed as one.
    WITCH. They dressed me up like this! And this isn’t my nose, it’s a false one!
    SIR BEDEVIRE. [lifts hollowed out raddish from witch’s nose, then replaces it.] Well, did you dress her up like this?
    PEASANTS. No! No! No!…well, yes, yes. A bit, a bit. But she’s a witch!
    SIR BEDEVIRE. How do you know she’s a witch?
    FIRST PEASANT. Oh, she turned me into a newt!
    SIR BEDEVIRE. A newt? [All look suspiciously at perfectly fine peasant.]
    FIRST PEASANT. Well, I got better.
    PEASANTS. Burn her anyway!

    (My favorite scene XD)