Study Guide

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Production Design

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Production Design

Doing More with Less

Did we mention that Monty Python and the Holy Grail was a super-low budget production? In fact, it was largely funded by wealthy Brits who were looking for tax write-offs on the exorbitantly high British tax rates of the '70s (the same rates that drove the Beatles to move to the U.S).

And, as it turns out, the low budget is part of what makes this movie so awesome. Take, for instance, the coconut knocking in place of the horses. Yes, it's a funny joke because coconuts were used to replicate horse hoof beats in old radio shows; but the decision to make the joke was much more practical—they simply didn't have the funds to get actual horses.

There are a number of other small production details related to the film's budget. The Black Knight scene, for instance, took about an entire week to film because of the limited number of people still working at that point (it was one of the final scenes filmed and they had run out of money). Despite these limitations, it has become one of the movie's most well-known and oft-quoted scenes.

Then there's the story behind the Killer Rabbit. Instead of buying a rabbit, they used a trained one they borrowed from a woman who was insistent he remained unsoiled. However, given that he was playing the role of killer rabbit, there was some red dye used that may have been more permanent than expected. Apparently the woman was not pleased and got a bit crazed (how would you like your rabbit drenched in fake blood?).

Fortunately, the low budget and random mishaps become jokes themselves that fit perfectly within the film. Like the coconuts, the castle Camelot was just a model due to budget and the whole castle fiasco. Unfortunately, it was pretty windy when they started filming, and the prop kept blowing over…leading to Patsy's inside joke in which he flat out tells us that it's just a model.

Doing more with less was basically Python specialty—which is probably, now that we think about it, why Monty Python is so popular with dads the world over.

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