Study Guide

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Appearances

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Monty Python, being primarily a TV and film comedy group, is always about the visual. Sometimes just the absurd appearances of the characters are enough to send us rolling in the aisles. And these appearances are paired sometimes with very fitting behavior, like the inane and more-than-a-little-daft guards, or the silly armor of the Frenchman.

But other times we get something totally incongruent: a fluffy white bunny that's a maniacal killer? And wicked enchanter who's named Tim? A filthy mud-digging peasant who could write a treatise on the repression of the lower socio-economic class? The audience is always both taught when to laugh and tricked into laughter by visual appearances in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Questions About Appearances

  1. What color is the Legendary Black Beast of Aaarrggghhh? What aspect of the film's use of appearances does this introduce?
  2. How do Arthur and his knights appear to other characters in the film? Do you find it strange that other characters are aware of the lack of horses?
  3. How many times does the film break the fourth wall to comment on appearanceā€¦ and what's the purpose of drawing attention to the movie as a movie? Patsy only has one line, but do you remember what he says about Camelot?
  4. Even with the silly crests, the knights look like knights. In fact, some reviewers believed this was among the most accurate representation of all films about the Arthurian legends. So what's the value of authentic appearances in an otherwise surreal and subversive film?

Chew on This

The deceptive appearances in The Holy Grail contribute to the films subversions of typical fantasy stereotypes. It's not all about getting a few laughs; it's about how people expect things to appear versus what they actually are.

The Holy Grail is a film about the need to maintain certain appearances in order to survive.

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