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Python's 'Grail': Extra Silly
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Motion pictures -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Author: Hunter, Stephen
Date: Sep 21, 2001
Start Page: C.05
Section: STYLE

At a certain point, a crudely animated (by [Terry Gilliam]) God requires that they search for the Holy Grail, which simply fulfills the requirement for continued motion and prompts them on to such classics in the history of comedy as Castle Anthrax (where the eightscore teenage girls ache to be spanked), the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (helpful for disposing of killer bunnies), the anarcho-syndicalist peasant, the guy who picks up the dead. Now if the dead aren't quite dead, the simple expedient of a bonk on the head solves that problem.

Then there's the funny-sounds bit. You can think about such things too hard, but it appears to me to be rooted in an infant's discovery that certain sounds, repeated over and over again, are fun to say and utterly lose contact with meaning and the more abstract they become, the more hilarious. It may be a uniquely British conceit: Lewis Carroll and his "Jabberwocky" come to mind. This verbal lunacy reaches its height in a masterpiece of zaniness where the wandering knights encounter some other armored blokes who identify themselves as the Knights Who Say "Ni." That's all they do, is say "Ni." How does one handle a knight who says Ni? At this point you realize that you're watching a bunch of Cambridge grads in cheesy fake army getups, one of them an actual medical doctor, standing around a forest chanting, "We are the knights who say Ni. Ni, Ni, Ni!"

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