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Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Autor:   •  June 24, 2018  •  2,229 Words (9 Pages)  •  163 Views

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an entirely separate platform for comedy. The filmmakers are immediately implemented through the subtitles and chaotic reorganization of the opening credits. By opening in such a manner, the film establishes its awareness of the movie production process and the fact that the filmmakers are present in this alternate reality. As the story progresses, more aspects of playful narration and moviemaking are presented. The narrator, for example, is shown flipping the pages of a story book, only to have his hand pulled away by the black furry hand of an off screen beast. Later into the film, at the introduction of the Tale of Sir Lancelot, the calligrapher makes an error in his attempt to create the chapter title and proceeds to scold the sun and the clouds for shaking the ground. Throughout the film the narrator also makes comments that do not relate directly to the storyline, in one instance introducing scene 34 as “a smashing scene with lovely acting.” Individually, each of these aspects of the narration and film awareness are little more than clever comedy. As a whole, however, the establishment of the third person perspective of the narrative process and the comedy implemented within it add to the overall tone of satire. Traditionally, the narration and story telling of a mythological quest consists of a formal tone that reflects the tale itself. Therefore, when this premise of formality is interrupted by silliness and comedy, the story follows its lead.

Once the perspective of the narrator and filmmakers is established, they become even more prevalent when they directly interact with the story and even influence events. In doing so, the film forces the audience out of their comfort zone and makes them contemplate the significance of the interaction. One way that the film does so is through the commentary of characters within the story as they shift points of view from that of a character to that of an actor. Upon the Knight’s arrival at Camelot and their admiration of the castle, Arthur’s assistant Patsy mutters, “it’s only a model.” Stepping out of his role in the story, Patsy recognizes the production process and destroys the great image that the audience might be creating of Camelot within their heads. Not only adding on to the satire of the movie, this line also causes the audience to pause and think about the implications of having a character aware of the model. On another occasion at the Castle Anthrax, Dingo (Carol Cleveland) mentions that the scene was almost cut from the movie. Following her comment, the scene cuts to the Three Headed Knight from the Tale of Sir Robin and then to the two peasants from an earlier encounter, both commenting on how their scenes were superior. Then a string of scenes that have yet to take place occurs with characters repeating, “Get on with it!” Again stepping outside of their established perspectives, these characters realize that they are parts to a narrative and break the structure of a traditional film. Furthermore, through both of these instances, the viewer is forced to recognize the intentional informality and silliness of the narrative.

On top of characters providing commentary, the perspectives of the narrator and filmmakers also provide information that directly influences the plot. As the Knights are chased through the Cave of Caerbannog by the Legendary Black Beast of Arrrghh, the narrator states that they would have faced certain death if not for the animator having a sudden heart attack. In this instant, the animator is scene at his desk, suddenly jolting back as he dies. While characters provide commentary in the story, this interaction breaks down the barriers between the story and production even more drastically. Had it not been for the perspective of the narrator and animator, it is unclear how the scene would have played out.

As if building up to a clash between the narrators and the characters within the story, the most significant interaction between the two perspectives occurs at the end of the movie, when Lancelot, then Arthur and Bedevere, are arrested, the assault on the Castle of Arrghh is halted, and the film is forced to shut down. Beginning with a knight slaying a Famous Historian (John Young), a subplot is created in which investigators and the historian’s wife attempt to track down his killer. Through each excerpt (six in total), however, the viewer is limited by the third person perspective and is uncertain whether or not the investigation is actually within The Holy Grail’s storyline. By the end of the movie, the viewer realizes that in this instance, the third person perspective of the narrator and the third person perspective of the knights actually overlap as the investigators make the arrests. With this information and the termination of the film, the viewer must recognize the story of the knights for what it is: a literal film production. While many other pictures avoid their story being perceived as a production, Monty Python and the Holy Grail reveals itself for what it truly is. All of the magic and nobility of the tale of the knights is cast out and what remains is essentially one giant, satirical slap in the face.

Through the implementation of each of these different perspectives, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is able to create multiple layers of comedy and also stretch the boundaries of traditional storytelling. As a result, the film keeps the viewer guessing at its true composition and also provides a story that is entertaining and full of satire. The third person perspective of the characters within the tale reveal the knights to be quite different from their usual portrayals as their faults are exposed and their quest is belittled.

At the same time, the audience is allowed to judge the knights due to several cases of omniscience and heightened awareness. Meanwhile, the story itself is based on satire as the third person perspective of the narrator lacks any real formality. Collectively, these perspectives dance along their boundaries eventually crossing over and bring the film to a close.

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