Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, UK)

In the second irreverent Monty Python feature film - from co-directors Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones that skewered religion, medieval epics, the Middle Ages and the Arthurian legend, the witch trials and black plague, the quest for the Holy Grail in the 10th Century AD, Camelot and a host of other topics - in many favorite scenes:

  • the opening view of King Arthur (Graham Chapman) galloping over a hill - with an imaginary stallion (announced by the clopping sound of approaching hooves) - next to the King was his hunchbacked servant-lackey Patsy (Terry Gilliam) banging two coconut shells together to simulate the horses' hooves
King Arthur (Graham Chapman) with Patsy (Terry Gilliam)
  • the performance of the loopy, anarchic "Camelot Song (Knights of the Round Table)" that broke out after King Arthur spotted the castle Camelot in the distance to his Knights of the Round Table. (Patsy downplayed the sight: "It's only a model!" King Arthur: "Shh!") - the song featured high-kicking, helmeted knights in a chorus line; after the number was concluded, King Arthur memorably reconsidered and sighed: "Well, on second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place"
  • the ridiculous argument with castle gatekeepers and guards about whether African or European swallows may have carried the coconuts to the more temperate Northern zone: ("It's a simple question of weight ratios. A five-ounce bird could not carry a one-pound coconut...In order to maintain air speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings 43 times every second...It could be carried by an African swallow. An African swallow, maybe, but not a European swallow...But then, of course, African swallows are non-migratory. So they couldn't bring a coconut back anyway. Wait a minute. Supposing two swallows carried it together!")
  • the outrageous scene of the collection of corpses (for ninepence apiece) by the Dead Collector (Eric Idle) on his rounds through a muddy medieval village as he cried out: "Bring Out Your Dead!" and the argument with a Large Man (John Cleese) over a half-dead candidate: ("I'm not dead!...I don't want to go on the cart")
  • King Arthur's encounter with the Black Knight (John Cleese) who persistently insisted on combat even after all of his limbs had been hacked off and he had been reduced to a head and torso: ("It's just a flesh wound!...I'm invincible!... The Black Knight always triumphs!...I see. Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!") - remarkably, the Black Knight didn't expire at the end of the scene, and the duel ended in a tie, even though the Black Knight was reduced to only a head and torso and asserted: "All right, we'll call it a draw."
Mutilation of The Black Knight
  • the scene of the prosecution of a suspected witch: (Question: "What makes you think she's a witch?" Answer: "She turned me into a newt!...I got better!"), who was weighed by Sir Bedevere the Wise (Terry Jones), and found to be guilty because she weighed the same as a duck: ("So logically, if she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood. And therefore? A witch!")
  • the French sentry's taunting and insulting words to King Arthur at a French-controlled castle: ("I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries")
  • the surprising scene of a modern-day documentarian/historian named Frank (John Young), commenting on the Arthurian legend, suddenly and viciously slashed to death across the neck with a sword by an un-named horseback-riding knight (the master of the Black Knight?), the main villain in the film; afterwards, the man's wife (Rita Davies) (from off-camera) rushed to her dead husband's side, crying out: "Frank!" It is possible this knight (not with Arthur) was framing Arthur and his Knights with murder.
  • the dreaded tree-shaped Knights Who Say 'Ni' in the forest, led by a helmeted towering knight (Michael Palin) with deer antlers sticking up from his head - who made strong demands of Arthur to appease them by giving them shrubbery before being allowed passage: ("One that looks nice... and not too expensive")
  • the scenes about the Fierce Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog (a guardian beast living in a cave that looked like a harmless white rabbit) that viciously attacked and beheaded a number of the Knights ("It's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it?"), and the ritualistic use of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (a sacred relic) to blow up the Killer Rabbit
  • the guarded Bridge of Death crossing scene where a trollish, creepy soothsayer / bridgekeeper (Terry Gilliam) asked travelers five (or three) questions before they were allowed to pass over the Gorge of Eternal Peril
  • the plot-twisting conclusion, when a police car, a paddy wagon, and officers of the law pulled into the scene in front of King Arthur's large battle army, and Frank's wife (Rita Davies) exited the car and shouted out: "Yes, they're the ones, I'm sure" - the group of insane knights were arrested by the authorities for the murder of historian Frank; one of the police officers threatened the cameraman, and put his hand over the camera lens: ("All right, sonny, that's enough, just pack that in") - but after the cameraman swore: "Christ!", the film reel broke in the projector and derailed from the gate and the film abruptly ended
Frank's Wife: "Yes, they're the ones, I'm sure"
The Abrupt End of the Film

"Camelot Song"

Arguing with Castle Gatekeepers

Collection of Corpses: "Bring Out Your Dead"

Quest For the Holy Grail

Murder of Historian

The Knights Who Say 'Ni' - Not Allowing Passage

Killer Rabbit

Ritualistic Throwing of the Holy Hand Grenade at the Killer Rabbit

Questions at The Bridge of Death

Ending: Arrests of the Knights


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