The Swedes and Passionate Dentistry
If you don't speak Swedish you might not have picked up on the humor in the opening credits. Just a heads up; those weren't real subtitles. And, okay, fine—we'll save you from taking a crash course in Swedish 101—it wasn't actually real Swedish either.
The whole thing was a joke. We know. It's shocking that a film as pivotal and serious as Monty Python and the Holy Grail would contain something as silly as a joke, but there you have it.
Here are the credits, in their loony entirety:
Also also wik
Wi not trei a holiday in Sweeden this yer ?
See the loveli lakes
The wonderful telephone system
And mani interesting furry animals
Including the majestic moose
A moose once bit my sister...
No realli! She was Karving her initials on the moose with the sharpened end of an interspace toothbrush given her by Svenge—her brother-in-law— an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian movies: "The Hot Hands of an Oslo Dentist", "Fillings of Passion", "The Huge Molars of Horst Nordfink"...
Mynd you, moose bites Kan be pretti nasti...
You might notice the Swedish-English mash-up starts veering off the translation track and starts sounding like a travel brochure. The lovely lakes? Really? Then it gets really funky with all the moose stuff and the sister and the space toothbrush… um, what?
There's just no way of knowing Monty Python meant by this subtitle madness… and that's the point. Suddenly, the credits and soundtrack grind to a halt, and we're informed that the people responsible for them have been sacked. Good riddance.
Subsequently, the people who sacked the creators of the credits are themselves sacked, but the moose begins to find its way into the credits themselves:
Møøse trained by Yutte Hermsgervørdenbrøtbørda Special Møøse Effects Olaf Prot.
Then it starts to get even more ridiculous with
Large møøse on the left hand side of the screen in the third scene from the end, given a thorough grounding in Latin, French and "O" Level Geography by Bo Benn.
These people are then also sacked, and the credits are finished in a completely different style (one that definitely deserves a seizure warning). Moose have been replaced by llamas, which have apparently had some part in directing the movie, and the music changes to a rousing Mexican mariachi band.
So, again: what's all this craziness about? And what does it have to do with Richard Nixon (who signed the "extra special thanks")? Well, it's actually quite complicated and necessitates a nuanced understanding of Swedish linguistics, the physiology of Alces alces, and the history surrounding the American presidency in the early '70s.
Or—wait. No it doesn't. Let's just hand the mic to John Cleese, who can explain the moostraganza:
"The Llama is funny, like moose and Nixon, and fish of any kind."
Yeah, this is really just an introduction to the arbitrary weirdness of what's to come. The Pythons had no budget and couldn't do anything fancy with the credits so they decided to do them up in a nonsensical, hilarious way. Holy Grail is literally packed full of absurdist humor at every turn and in every scene…and the opening credits are your fair warning.