Monday, May 7, 2012

If She Weighs the Same As a Duck...

"You shall bring us... a shrubbery!"

Uncle P's sister sent me this photo today. She visits as many cake sites as I do horror and movie sites, so I don't know where she found it.  It's probably the single most epic win cake of all time. Just look at it. The Black Knight; a Knight Who Says 'Ni;' the Killer Rabbit and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, all perfectly rendered in a cake I couldn't bear to eat, but just want to bask in its glory. This was NOT an inexpensive cake and I wish I had the money it cost just to pay some bills, let alone buy an insanely amazing custom cake. To be honest, she sent it in an email titled "awesome python cake." I was was actually expecting a picture of a snake cake. Imagine my delight at being so wrong.

But this post isn't really about cake. Nor is it about how my sister and I communicate, because she knew this particular cake, in conjunction with her recent guest post, would get me to a topic I don't think I've ever fully addressed: Monty Python Movies. Oh, I may have made passing comments or comparisons or minor references here and there. But I don't think I ever posted anything devoted solely to the British insaniacs and their influence on my personal take on life. But I'm going to talk about the movies, first. And one at a time, every now and then. Starting with favorite and ending with my least. And what better place to start with the group's first feature length film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Directed by the Terrys (Gilliam and Jones), and co-written by all six of them, Holy Grail is a brilliantly nonsensical take on the Arthurian legends, loaded with bad puns, repeating themes ("I'm not dead yet!") and preposterous situations in a world completely populated by morons, lunatics and cartoon monsters. Not everything works (the three-headed giant is kind of lame as is the movie's anti-climatic non-ending) but there is far more gold than pyrite in this movie and no matter how many times I've seen it or how many lines I can quote from it or how easily I can manage to work a quote into a conversation with either or both people who will get it and people who won't, it still makes me laugh like an idiot after more than 45 years. I think it's because, like Carroll, the six Pythons understood that not only was nonsense funny, it was even funnier when applied as satire.

Holy Grail covers the gamut of what every movie should include:

A Plague:




"Who are you, that are so wise in the ways of science?" Genius!


Arranged Marriage (and Musicals):


(It's even funnier in Spanish!)

So many more moments and comments and quotable scenes. Too much to go on and on about. Proof that nonsense can be as funny to adults as it is to kids, especially when applied so pointedly satirical, Monty Python and the Holy Grail not only cemented the troupe's cult status (especially here in the U.S.*) but paved the way for more daring satire (if not always as successfully) in their future films.

If you don't know Python or (like many) think you hate Python, you may want to start with the Broadway Cast recording of "Spamalot," Eric Idle's musical adaptation. Yes, many things are very different from the movie and it's funnier of you know and love the movie but it's as gentle an intro to Python as you can get. Then watch Holy Grail.

Of course, the movie is also one of several very special shared movie experiences for Sis and I. And to some extent, Dad (who swears that at the matinee he attended alone, a very confused old lady got up and left after the first twenty minutes). One of the many things that bond my sister and I so closely are the movies we saw together as kids. I like to think I taught her how to watch movies. I know she helped me to remember how do that and still enjoy them. That and the fact that she loves nonsense as much as I do, helps.

*I know plenty of Brits who don't get Python or our obsession for them. Their loss.

More, anon. 

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