Rules and Order

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, rules and order might be one of the last things you'd expect. Arthur travels through a kingdom where any sort of normal protocol is out the window. He's berated by a peasant. Cute bunnies are killer monsters. Knights are chickens. Horses are coconuts.

When we look at some scenes on a smaller scale we see rules and order everywhere… but they're only there to be subverted. We see a "dead collector" who's a stickler about regulations and a bridgekeeper who lets no one cross without a rigorous and formal interrogation. Order exists only to be upended—even the idea of filmmaking as an orderly and sensible endeavor is deliberately lampooned by these masters of disorder.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. When are characters above the law? Surely Arthur, being king, doesn't need to submit to the normal rules of the land. What about other characters like Lancelot or the other knights?
  2. Do the characters have to conform to the strange rules of Holy Grail? What happens when rules are broken? What if Lancelot were to push the Bridgekeeper into the gorge?
  3. What kind of normal rules exist in a medieval fantasy? Think about the stereotypical process of questing; what usually happens and how does Holy Grail break all the rules?
  4. How does the film's juxtaposition of order and chaos add to the humor?

Chew on This

Having specific rules in absurd situations throughout the film adds to the irony: the audience is experiencing a story that itself seems totally bereft of order.

It's only through representing a sense of order that a parody can function. The film is orderly in its narrative structure with the purpose of subverting that order within specific contexts of the story.

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