Sunday, December 4, 2016

Don't Make a Scene: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Scene 34)

The Story: How do you get "out" of a sketch? On vaudeville, you delivered your "killer" punch-line and sauntered off-stage as the band wacka-wacka'd you off. On film or video it's more formal; You could link sketches, throw interstitials, bumpers, segues...really, anything that could provide a shortest straight path from one to the other. So simple a "guest host" could do it.

On "Monty Python's Flying Circus" this was always a problem. The shows were such a grab-bag of material that transitions were always messy, even with the always-at-the-ready And Now For Something Completely Different... Pretty soon, there were the naked organist, complaints to preceding skits, Terry Gilliam's odd animations, and the random filmed piece that could serve as an intro. That is, if the sketches ended properly. If they didn'tif there wasn't a good enough punch-line, or it seemed too on-the-nose—the Pythons would simply put an end to it (punch-line or no) by going 90° from the direction they were heading, without pausing, or even acknowledging the preceding sketch. They broke rules, cheated and lied about it and that grew out of the comedy and became a part of it.

As in this sequence from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Arthur and the Knights are attacked in a cave with nothing but torches and a limited budget (You couldn't argue with their tag-line: "Makes 'Ben-Hur' look like an epic!") to defend themselves against one of Gilliam's bizarre monsters. But how to end it? The knights are clearly out-matched and it would be nearly impossible to create a sequence that combined live action and animation without the budget. Somebody has to die. So, how do your resolve it? A unique way is found with a cameo by Terry Gilliam himself in the sequence. It's his monster. Let him solve it.

And so...he does.

Problem solved. On to the next set-up.

The Set-Up: When last we left King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his Knights of the Round Table, they had successfully blown up the vicious rabbit guarding the Cave of Caerrbannorg. Now, they make their way through the cave, searching for the carved Last Words of Joseph of Aramathea, which may give them clues to the resting place of The Holy Grail.

Action! (shhh!)

Scene 34KNIGHT: There! Look!

LAUNCELOT: What does it say?
GALAHAD: What language is that?

ARTHUR: Brother Maynard, you're our scholar!
MAYNARD: It's Aramaic!

GALAHAD: Of course! Joseph of Aramathea!
KNIGHT: What does it say?
MAYNARD: It reads,...

MAYNARD: ...'Here may be found...

MAYNARD:'...the last words of Joseph of Aramathea. He who is valiant...'

MAYNARD: '...and pure of spirit...'

MAYNARD: '...may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of uuggggggh'.


MAYNARD: '... the Castle of uuggggggh'.
BEDEMIR: What is that?

MAYNARD: He must have died while carving it.
LAUNCELOT: Oh, come on!
MAYNARD: Well, that's what it says.

ARTHUR: Look, if he was dying, he wouldn't bother to carve 'aaggggh'. He'd just say it!
MAYNARD: Well, that's what's carved in the rock!

GALAHAD: Perhaps he was dictating.
ARTHUR: Oh, shut up. Well, does it say anything else?

MAYNARD: Just, 'uuggggggh'.
LAUNCELOT: Aauuggghhh.
KNIGHT: Aaauggh.
BEDEMIR: You don't suppose he meant the Camauuuugh?
KNIGHT: Where's that?
BEDEMIR: France, I think.
LAUNCELOT: Isn't there a Saint Aauuuves in Cornwall?

ARTHUR: No, that's Saint Ives.
LAUNCELOT: Oh, yes. Saint Iiiives.
SEVERAL: Iiiiives.

BEDEMIR: Oooohoohohooo!

LAUNCELOT: No, no, aauuuuugh, at the back of the throat. Aauuugh.

BEDEMIR: No, no, no, oooooooh, in surprise and alarm.
LAUNCELOT: Oh, you mean sort of a aaaagh!
BEDEMIR: Yes, but I-- Aaaaagh!

KNIGHT: Oh, no!


MAYNARD: It's the legendary Black Beast of...

MAYNARD: ...aaauuugh!

ARTHUR: Run away!

ALL: Run away! Run away!

KNIGHTS: Shhh! I think we've lost him.

NARRATOR: As the horrendous Black Beast lunged forward...

NARRATOR: ...escape for Arthur and his knights...

NARRATOR: ...seemed hopeless.

NARRATOR: When, suddenly...

NARRATOR: ...the animator suffered...

NARRATOR: ...a fatal heart attack.


NARRATOR: The cartoon peril was no more.

NARRATOR: The Quest for the Holy Grail could continue.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Words by Graham Chapman, John Cleese , Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin

Pictures by Terry Bedford and Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is available on DVD from Columbia-Tri-Star Home Video.

Today's scene starts at 6:45

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