Study Guide

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Director

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Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones

The Holy Grail was written by the full Python gang but was directed by two of them: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. Gilliam was the animator for Flying Circus, Holy Grail and all things Python. Jones was, like the rest of them, a writer and actor. In fact, most of the Pythons considered themselves to be first and foremost writers, but that never stopped them from appearing in their own work.

If you're watching the film again, look closely and you might notice that behind all that medieval garb there are some familiar faces appearing more than a few times. Each of the Pythons has a primary role, but they don many costumes throughout the film. It's this sort of freedom to write, direct, and act that gives the Pythons the liberty to create something truly unique, just as they'd done on TV. They're amazingly versatile actors, equally hilarious playing men and women.

Terry Jones, like most of the Pythons, has had a successful post-Python career. In fact, he not only went on to solo direct the group's other films but he wrote and directed a number of other screenplays and operas. He's also written a few books, including some nonfiction about the Middle Ages, perhaps inspired by his first venture into Arthurian lore.

Terry Gilliam, while primarily a writer, animator, and actor in previous works, launched himself into the role of director beginning with The Holy Grail. The only Yankee of the bunch, he's gone on to direct numerous films, among them the critically acclaimed Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Fisher King. His films are imaginative and fantastical, which is no surprise when you've seen his rather strange Holy Grail animations.

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