Category Archives: Films

‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ Weathered Protests 40 years ago

Right here are some sacred cows in cinema, topics that you either can’t communicate about or which you have to count on to get push back on. One of those, possibly the largest of all, would be prepared faith. For some artists, it’s sufficient to imagine protests to make you want to persuade a ways clean of ever discussing faith; others see the subject and feel like they can’t do something however make art about it. The Monty Python comedy troupe fell into the latter camp with their 0.33 feature movie, released in August of 1979: Monty Python’s Life of Brian has lived a protracted put up-launch life, taken into consideration one of the greatest comedies of all time. But when it was launched, it turned into met by means of worldwide protests because of its daring content.
The primary setup of lifestyles of Brian is both hilarious and an clean way to court controversy: as opposed to one in all many cinematic versions of the tale of Jesus Christ, the movie talks approximately the little child born inside the manger right next door, from beginning to his very own crucifixion after a failed strive at being a messianic determine in his very own right. As within the troupe’s preceding films, And Now For some thing completely one of a kind and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, nearly each man or woman in the film is portrayed with the aid of the organization’s six members: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, who co-wrote the script together.
That script is nearly what sunk lifestyles of Brian earlier than it even got off the floor. As unique inside the parent in 2019, Lord Bernard Delfont, the chairman of the movie studio EMI, which had originally greenlit life of Brian into manufacturing, decided that he could study the script for the brand new comedy. That ended up being a terrible concept for the Pythons, considering Lord Delfont hated what he study and yanked the movie from their production slate. So, in spite of being big-name stars, the Monty Python contributors wished to pull together some million pounds in a rush.
Idle “had the idea of phoning George Harrison,” in keeping with the thing, because the ex-Beatle became the richest person he knew. by using doing so, Harrison changed into not handiest inspired to assist out: he created a film studio of his personal, handmade films, specifically designed to fund lifestyles of Brian in complete. Hand-crafted movies went on to fund and bring British movies like Time Bandits, Withnail & I, and Lock, inventory, and two Smoking Barrels. at the same time as the Pythons were capable of make life of Brian the manner they desired to way to Harrison’s generosity, the reaction of the EMI chairman changed into a hint to how the film might be handled subsequently.

Comments Off on ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ Weathered Protests 40 years ago

Filed under Comedy, Films

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Cheapy and Sarcastic Comedy Movies

To describe the Monty Python comedy and the Holy Grail (1975) of Monty Python’s British comedy group within two adjectives, it must be cheap and insidious. But that is not a decry.

Born in 1975 with an extremely tight production budget of $ 220,000, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is always able to laugh at every generation of viewers with crazy, illusory, yet innocent characters. poetry, full of ideas. They are the Don Quixote of an absurd context based on the myth of King Arthur searching for the Holy Grail.

While films of the Middle Ages are always heavily invested in costumes in order to reproduce a lavish atmosphere, Monty Python and the Holy Grail are sarcastic voices when everything in the film appears in a grotesque way.

King Arthur (Graham Chapman) is full of humor while riding on a fantasy horse and using coconuts to make a sound that filters piles for a real horse. The creativity that made everyone laugh was actually derived from the very limited funding, so the crew could not hire horses. Laughter popping out of these scenes comes from the contrast of the act of fantasy riding and the seriousness of the characters. An unreasonable action is done very meticulously. It was amusing because it broke the usual frame of reference, as our imagination about the life of a king is to be extravagant.

Instead of telling a story about finding the Holy Grail, Monty Python and the Holy Grail are a mixture of surreal elements, but don’t make us feel angry. On the contrary, I was extremely pleased with the interpretations in the film. Perhaps the film is inherently absurd.

Terry Gilliam in his debut long film soon showed his mockery when building an extremely meaningless journey with a very tight structure. Although the situations are overlapping; like Man in scene 24, King Arthur’s army or controversy about swallow swallows. Done all is not excessive, they all appear intentionally and go back in the next situation.

Comments Off on Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Cheapy and Sarcastic Comedy Movies

Filed under Films

Monty Python Michael Palin: Comedy Love Producing Movies

Michael Edward Palin became famous when he was a member of Monty Python in the 1970s. Later, he had his own drama, Ripping Yarn, and also appeared in many films such as A Fish Called Wanda. For the past 20 years, he has become very popular as a travel television announcer.

Michael Edward Palin is an English comedian, actor, writer and host. He was born on May 5, 1943 in Broomhill, Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire. Michael Edward Palin is the second and only son of Edward Moreton Palin and Mary Rachel Lockhart. His father, a school engineer at Shrewsbury and Cambridge, worked for a steel company. He studied modern history at Brasenose College, Oxford.

He was one of the members of Monty Python comedy group and then made some travel documentaries. Palin writes most comedies with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had many shows like Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report, and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Michael Edward Palin acted in most of Monty Python’s operas including Argument Clinic, Dead Parrot sketch, The Lumberjack Song, The Spanish Inquisition, and The Fish-Slapping Dance.

Michael Edward Palin continued to work with Terry Jones after leaving Monty Python in order to write Ripping Yarns together. He also starred in many films directed by his Monty Python friend, Terry Gilliam and featured prominently in A Fish Called Wanda. As a result, he won the BAFTA award for the best supporting actor. A survey in 2005 to search for The Comedians’ Comedian title, Michael Edward Palin was voted 30th by comedians and other people in comedy industry.

After Monty Python, he started a new career as a travel writer and travel documentary maker. His journey took him worldwide including North and South Pole, Sahara, Himalaya, Eastern Europe and Brazil. In 2000, Michael Edward Palin was named CBE for his contributions to television. From 2009 to 2012, Michael Edward Palin was president of the Royal Geographic Society. On May 12, 2013, Michael Edward Palin was awarded as a member of The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the highest award awarded by the organization.

Comments Off on Monty Python Michael Palin: Comedy Love Producing Movies

Filed under Films

Monty Python’s And Now For Something Completely Different (1971)

“And Now For Something Completely Different” 
Director: Ian MacNaughton
Producer: Patricia Casey
Original Theatrical Release Date: 28 Sept. 1971 (U.K.)
Running Time: 1:28

The Pythons’ first theatrical feature was an anthology of their best work from the first two series of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” Produced as a way to introduce the team to U.S. audiences, the film was actually a bigger moneymaker back in England, where the sketches had originally been aired.


Like the TV series, the film is a stream-of consciousness flow of sketches and Terry Gilliam animations. Unlike the show, they were performed without a live audience.

Among the skits included are How Not to Be Seen; A Man With a Tape Recorder Up His Nose; the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook; Marriage Counselor; Nudge Nudge; Self-defense Against Fresh Fruit; Hell’s Grannies; Camp Military Maneuvers; Mountaineering Sketch; the Mouse Organ; Sir Edward Ross Interview; Milkmen Collector; the Funniest Joke in the World; the Dead Parrot; the Lumberjack Song; the Dirty Fork sketch; Vocational Guidance Counselor; “Blackmail!”; a Reenactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbor (by Townswomen’s Guild of Sheffield); and the Upper Class Twit of the Year Competition.

Gilliam’s animations included the Cannibal in the Baby Carriage; Fairy Tale (featuring the black spot); Conrad Poohs and His Dancing Teeth; Catching a Bus; Killer Cars; American Defense; Rodin’s Kiss; and a shaver slicing off his own head.

The Making of

In 1970 Victor Lownes, the head of Playboy’s London office, offered to put up half the budget for a film of Python sketches that could be marketed to the U.S. college circuit. As the TV series had not yet been shown in the States, a motion picture consisting of the team’s best bits was seen as an effective way to introduce Python to American movie audiences, and attract fans who’d already bought the import records.

The content of the film pretty much followed the dictates of Lownes, a fan who wanted to eschew new material and only go with choice sketches from the first and second series of “Monty Python Flying Circus,” restaged (and reanimated) for 35mm cameras.

Ian MacNaughton, who was director of the TV series, took two months’ unpaid leave from the BBC to film “And Now For Something Completely Different,” which was shot in an unused milk depot in North London, with exteriors on the outskirts of the city. Filming took place in Autumn 1970, after the recording of the second TV series (but before most of that series had aired).

Lownes’ personal taste for Python sketches, however, did not extend to Ken Shabby, who was left on the cutting room floor. Lownes also got into a battle with Gilliam over the size of his name in the credits.


The film’s £80,000 budget was easily recovered in the U.K.; ticket buyers showed up despite the fact that the movie featured recycled comedy bits (and had the temerity to call itself “And Now for Something Completely Different”!). Columbia’s marketing of the film in its 1972 U.S. release, however, failed to lure audiences, and it fell flat.

Once Python began building a fan base in the States a couple of years later, thanks to PBS and the record albums, “And Now For Something Completely Different” was re-released. But an hour-and-a-half sketch film still proved a tough sell.

Test audiences for the movie, chock-full of sketches, seemed to hit a wall at just under an hour, at which point exhaustion set in, regardless of the order in which sketches appeared. It was a lesson that the Pythons took to heart when it came time to draft their next film, which – despite its knockabout elements – would feature characters and a narrative arc that sustained a single story (and audience interest) throughout the film’s hour-and-a-half running time.

They would also demand more creative control over their work.

Comments Off on Monty Python’s And Now For Something Completely Different (1971)

Filed under Films

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” 
Directors: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones
Producers: Mark Forstater and John Goldstone
World Premiere: Filmex, Los Angeles, 14 March 1975
Original Theatrical Release Date: 27 April 1975 (U.S.)
Running Time: 1:30

With their second feature film, the Pythons not only redefined the limits of narrative structure (basically by ignoring them), but also took innovative and unconventional styles of filming and applied them to comedy. The movie sends up costume picture clichés, mythic heroism, educational films, and even subtitles – nonsense rendered with a Swedish accent (“Mynd you, møøse bites kan be pretti nasti.”)


The screenplay was a joyous romp through set pieces that sent up the serious, mythic characters at its center. As King Arthur (Graham Chapman) rounds up the gallant Knights of the Round Table to ride to Camelot, he must contend with subjects who are politically unfazed by his divinely-dispensed authority. He must also wield his sword against the Black Knight (John Cleese), a fearsome opponent whose gradual dismemberment fails to quell his desire to fight.

After turning away from Camelot (“It is a silly place,” he says despairingly), Arthur sees a miraculous vision of God in the clouds above, who sets forth a task for his knights: find the Holy Grail. (“Good idea, O Lord.” ” ‘COURSE it’s a good idea!”)

After a disastrous rout at a castle full of taunting French knights, Arthur’s band separates in pursuit of the Grail. Sir Lancelot (Cleese) slays a good-sized portion of a wedding party, thinking he is rescuing a damsel in distress; Sir Robin (Eric Idle) escapes an argumentative three-headed knight; Sir Galahad (Michael Palin) is “rescued” from certain temptation at the hands of eight-score blondes between the ages of 16 and 19½. Arthur and Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones), meanwhile, are confronted by the diabolical leader of the Knights Who Say ‘Ni’ (Palin), who threatens their lives unless they acquire shrubbery.

After regrouping, the knights encounter Tim the Enchanter (Cleese), who tells them the last known location of the Grail may be revealed only once they have battled a terrifying killer rabbit (puppet). The film’s climactic battle scene, shot against the beautifully austere backdrop of Castle Stalker, ends – for Arthur – on an unregal, embarrassing note.

The Making of

The group’s first draft of “Arthur King” contained scenes set in Arthurian times and in the present day. “Originally the script went through the Middle Ages and the twentieth century, and ended with him finding the Holy Grail in Harrods,” said Jones. His interest in Chaucer steered the project to staying put in the Middle Ages. [Among the modern-day material jettisoned were scenes involving toupees, psychiatrists and a boxing promoter, which were reconstituted for the fourth series of “Flying Circus”.]

The seriousness with which the characters behaved (such as pretending to ride horses as assistants banged coconut-halves together) made the jokes funnier, while the silliness of much of the story was made more believable than in a “Carry On” comedy by the realism of the settings and photography. The smoky landscapes, muddy locations and naturalistic lighting seem to capture accurately the Middle Ages. Costumes and makeup also reflect the concept of characters trying to eke out their existence in a harsh world.

” ‘Bring out your dead,’ ” said Terry Gilliam, is “gorgeous. Shit has never looked so beautiful! And because of that, it’s funnier, because it feels so much of a serious movie, a real movie, with real people groveling in the mud, and then ‘I’m not quite dead! I’m feeling much better!’ It’s funnier that way.”

As co-directors, Jones and Gilliam shared the responsibility of corralling the low-budgeted production across the location shoot in Scotland and at Epping Forest outside London. It was funded by a coalition of rock stars and record labels (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Island Records, Chrysalis Records and Charisma Records) and one of the film’s producers, music impresario Michael White (who’d brought a Cambridge Footlights revue featuring Graham Chapman and John Cleese to London’s West End in 1963).

Shooting for five weeks in April-May 1974, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was denied access to most of the castles that had been scouted, so Castle Doune stood in for three different locations. The tone for the shoot was cast on the first day of filming, when – having lugged equipment up a mountain at Glen Coe – the camera’s gears broke on the very first take.

In addition to mandating a whirlwind shoot in difficult locations, the skimpy budget of £229,575 forced the filmmakers to make many creative shortcuts, such as eliminating horses – thus setting the stage for one of the film’s most memorable running gags. “That must have been one of those very liberating decisions we had one day,” said Palin.

After a disastrous screening for the investors of the first cut (with faux-period music and an extremely dense effects track), the film underwent several edits before it was successfully premiered at the Filmex Festival in Los Angeles. It was acquired by U.S. distributor Cinema 5. (Its head, Don Rugoff, was given to narcolepsy and fell asleep during the screening, but bought it anyway.)

With ads announcing the movie “Makes ‘Ben Hur’ look like an epic,” “Holy Grail” opened in New York City in April 1975, with free coconuts given out to the first 1,000 ticket buyers (some of whom began queuing up at 5:30 a.m.). EMI debuted the film in London the following month.


Unlike the Pythons’ first feature, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The film’s anarchic spirit proved them masters not only of TV sketch comedy but of motion picture comedy as well.

It has also stood the test of time: On the Hollywood Reporter‘s 2014 list of Hollywood’s 100 favorite films – culled from studio execs, Academy Award-winners and other entertainment bigwigs – “Holy Grail” ranked #68, the second-highest of any film produced outside of Hollywood.

A 2001 re-release included a bit of footage from Castle Anthrax (in which Carol Cleveland, as Dingo, breaks frame and asks the audience, “Do you think this scene should’ve been cut?”); the scene has actually been trimmed from the original U.S. theatrical version. The re-release also featured a re-mixed Dolby Stereo soundtrack.

And in the playful spirit of Python, some DVDs feature subtitles of text from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV Part II” (“for people who don’t like the film”).

Comments Off on Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Filed under Films

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

“Life of Brian” 
Director: Terry Jones
Producer: John Goldstone
World Premiere: New York City, 17 August 1979
Running Time: 1:34

“Life of Brian” tells the story of a young contemporary of Jesus who through happenstance suddenly finds himself to be an adored holy figure. The film marked maturation for the group, for while “Brian” lacks the breezy innocence that “Holy Grail” exuded (and is much less self-conscious that it is a movie), it is a complex, thoughtful and ultimately moving portrait of a character and his period. It is also very funny.


As the film opens to a choir of the heaven host, Three Wise Men follow a star and arrive at the modest abode of an infant and its mother, who gratefully accepts the gold and frankincense (and even the myrrh) that are presented to her child, named Brian. These gifts are then briskly confiscated when it’s discovered that a certain Son of God is lying in the manger next door.

The infant grows into a young man (played by Graham Chapman), who is initiated into a revolutionary group trying to free Judea from the Roman occupiers. Brian stumbles into the role of spiritual leader when he is mistaken for the promised Messiah, and the masses trail after seeking blessings and guidance. Burdened with the celebrity of his new position, and now a target of the ruling class, Brian tries to rid himself of his followers by professing that they do not need leaders for their faith. “You are all individuals!” he shouts.

“Yes! We are all individuals!” they shout in unison.

Imprisoned by the Romans and sentenced to crucifixion, Brian watches from the cross as in his coming death he becomes an object of admiration, parental scorn, and inspiration for a jaunty parting song.

“Life of Brian” is adorned with some surreal passages (Brian escapes certain death by being whisked aboard a passing spaceship), and filled with wildly eccentric characters: the Jewish Official (John Cleese) overseeing the community’s stoning of a blasphemer; the Virgin Mandy (Jones), Brian’s mother, who tells the assembled throngs that her son is “not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy!”; Simon the Holy Man (Jones), who noisily celebrates the breaking of his vow of silence; Stan (Eric Idle), a revolutionary who wants to be known as Loretta; Ben (Michael Palin), an ultra-right-wing prisoner who loves his captors with a vengeance; Idle and Terry Gilliam as jailors creeping out the affable Roman officer (Palin) assigned to crucifixion duty; and Pontius Pilate (Palin), whose speech defect completely negates his authority among the masses.

The Making of

During a promotional tour for “Holy Grail,” Eric Idle was asked what the group’s next film would be. His reply: “Jesus Christ: Lust for Glory.” The ridiculous title set the gears in motion for thinking about what would be a brazen new direction for the group, involving a much more controversial subject matter than their previous film.

“What attracted us [to the idea] was the freshness of the subject – nobody had made a Biblical comedy film,” said Idle. “So we rented a lot of Hollywood Biblical films, and watch Charlton Heston’s breasts and the sheer seriousness with which they treated everything, and this gave us a fresh look. Of course it became clear early on that we couldn’t make fun of the Christ since what he says is very fine (and Buddhist), but the people around him were hilarious, and still are!”

Michael Palin said, “We realized that the key thing – the way we’d done ‘Holy Grail’ – was to create the Biblical period so convincingly that if you put modern characters and modern attitudes in it, it would still convince as being part of that period.”

Terry Jones took on solo directing chores, with Terry Gilliam serving as production designer. Arrangements were made to film in Tunisia, borrowing sets and locations that had been used for the Franco Zeffirelli mini-series, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

However, mere days before filming was to begin, EMI head Sir Bernard Delfont pulled out financing after reading the script and deeming it to be blasphemous. Riding to the rescue was Idle’s friend George Harrison, who agreed to put up the budget (and even appeared in a cameo) to get the show before the cameras. (Harrison said he’d done so because he really wanted to see the movie, quipping that his backing was the most expensive cinema ticket ever.) Thus was formed Handmade Films, a production company that would later produce such films as “Time Bandits,” “The Long Good Friday,” “The Missionary,” “Mona Lisa,” “How to Get Ahead in Advertising,” “Withnail and I,” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

Again taking center stage as the lead, Chapman had stopped drinking and was in much fitter form as Brian than he had been during the filming of “Holy Grail.” He also took the bit part of the Roman Biggus Dickus, who – like Pontius Pilate – was afflicted with an unfortunate speech impediment.


Despite the fact that Christ was an obvious outside figure to the comic proceedings (He is spotted at the beginning giving the Sermon on the Mount, which those in the back of the crowd have a hard time hearing), many churchgoers took the Pythons to task for what they called a blatantly disrespectful and blasphemous take on the Son of God.

There were pickets and protests on opening day in New York, London and elsewhere, and it was banned in several locales, including Ireland and the Deep South of America, and even in two towns in Surrey that didn’t have cinemas. A passionate TV debate about the film was aired on “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” between Cleese and Palin on one side, and moral campaigner Malcolm Muggeridge and Bishop Mervyn Stockwood on the other. With an allusion to Judas Iscariot, the Bishop warned the Pythons that they would get “their 30 pieces of silver.”

The controversy, however, merely confirmed that a central idea in “Life of Brian” – that religion or spirituality should not be left in the hands of a powerful few – was sharp enough to sting even when wrapped in the guise of a knockabout farce. In fact, Cleese defended “Life of Brian” by calling it “a perfectly religious film” that makes fun of the way some people follow religion, but not faith itself.

Idle said, “It really is an attack on Churches and pontificators and self-righteous assholes who claim to speak for God, of whom there are too many still on the planet.”

Today, “Life of Brian” is viewed by many as the Pythons’ masterpiece, and its standing on critics’ lists of film comedies is at, or near, the top.

A footnote: Eric Idle’s song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” performed during the final crucifixion scenes, has become a familiar tune at funerals and football matches, and has been covered by such artists as Green Day, Art Garfunkel, Tenor Fly, and the cast of “Coronation Street.” It was also sung by British sailors on board the HMS Sheffield awaiting rescue after their ship had been hit by an Exocet missile during the 1982 Falklands War.

Comments Off on Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

Filed under Films

Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)

“Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl” 
Director/Producer: Terry Hughes
Film Sequences Director: Ian MacNaughton
World Premiere: New York City, 25 June 1982
Running Time: 1:17

Shot on video, this compilation captured the jovial atmosphere of the Pythons’ September 1980 concerts at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The film is a party by and for Python fanatics, with an audience of about 8,000 (many in Gumby get-ups) cheering and hooting each recognizable bit, reciting dialogue along with the cast, and engaging in sing-a-longs with the Bruces.


The show is a mixture of Python warhorses (Ministry of Silly Walks, Camp Judges, World Forum, Crunchy Frog, Albartross, Nudge Nudge; Argument Clinic, Travel Agent, Salvation Fuzz); songs (“Sit On My Face”; “Never Be Rude to an Arab”; “Philosophers Song”; “Lumberjack Song”; and “How Sweet to Be an Idiot” and “Urban Spaceman” by Neil Innes); Gilliam animations (such as the Flasher Love Story); and film clips from the group’s German TV shows, “Fliegender Zirkus”, (including the Silly Olympics, Philosophers’ Football Match, and Little Red Riding Hood).

There is also some pre- and post-“Flying Circus” material: the “History of the Joke” comedy lecture, from “Cambridge Circus”; the Four Yorkshiremen sketch from “At Last the 1948 Show” (written by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman); and the Pope’s meeting with Michelangelo about the “Penultimate Supper,” a Cleese-Chapman sketch first performed by Cleese and Jonathan Lynn at the 1976 Amnesty International Benefit.

As a “Greatest Hits” compendium, it features some of the best performances by the group, notably Chapman’s solo wrestler, Colin “Bomber” Harris; Eric Idle’s loquacious Mr. Smoketoomuch; Michael Palin’s camp judge; and Cleese’s Minister of Silly Walks.

The Making of

The genesis of the Hollywood Bowl concert came out of the dissatisfaction the group felt over progress on their follow-up script to “Life of Brian.” Unhappy with the preponderance of sketches, it was proposed by their then-manager Denis O’Brien, that they instead perform their live show in Los Angeles, being promised a very attractive fee.

Planned as a concert film for potential sale to the HBO or Showtime cable channels, the recording of “Live at the Hollywood Bowl” was directed by Terry Hughes (who had directed two episodes of “Ripping Yarns,” and whose later credits include the TV recording of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Square Pegs,” “The Golden Girls,” “3rd Rock From the Sun” and “Friends”).

It was shot using a live-to-tape camera system, similar to one used for such films as “Richard Pryor Live on Concert” and the play, “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry.”

However, the resulting financial windfall from the L.A. shows never came. “We had taped the shows, and the money we were guaranteed we didn’t get,” said Gilliam. “So we actually had to release the tape as a movie here in England to get the money we’d hoped to get from the stage show.”

The Pythons agreed to open “Hollywood Bowl” in theatres, and then on home video. The order of sketches was rearranged from the actual performance, and much was trimmed.

With a running time of only 77 minutes, it is the briefest of Python films, but it captures the insanity of the Pythons’ early stage shows, which had previously only been preserved on record albums.


Comments Off on Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982)

Filed under Films

Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)

“Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life”
Director: Terry Jones
Producer: John Goldstone
Original Theatrical Release Date: 31 March 1983 (U.S.), 22 April 1983 (U.K.)
Original Running Time: 1:47
Director’s Cut: 1:56

The group’s last feature film with Graham Chapman, “The Meaning of Life”, is a sketch film tied together as a study of the perilousness and absurdity of human existence – a description that doesn’t do justice to how funny it is. There is blood, sex and violence, and some of the most surreal passages of any Python work, on the topics of birth, death, and all the bothersome business of living in-between. It comes across visually as a mix of Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Busby Berkeley – with projectile vomiting! But the film’s innate message is simple and sweet: We are all miracles of birth, so why not be nice to all the other miracles of birth out there.


The presentation opens with a short film, “The Crimson Permanent Assurance”, directed by Terry Gilliam, that tells the saga of accountants who take up arms as pirates and sail their small office building on the high seas of international finance, laying waste to multinational corporations.

The main feature is divided into seven sections, each dramatizing a particular topic of one’s life: “The Miracle of Birth” examines the technological and financial apparatus constructed around a baby’s delivery, followed by “Every Sperm Is Sacred,” a song-and-dance ode to the Catholic Church’s proscription of contraception. “Growth and Learning” details the teaching regimens of English schoolboys, from religion to sex. “Fighting Each Other” casts the audience into trench warfare, and the social niceties that endure even under fire.

In “Middle Age,” American tourists at a fine dining establishment have absolutely nothing to say. “Live Organ Transplants” is just that (and if you need a reason to keep your organ donor card after all the blood spilled, there is Eric Idle’s “Galaxy Song,” which marvels at the universe and our place in it).

In “The Autumn Years,” a barely-walking example of human gluttony, Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones), proceeds to eat his way through an entire French restaurant, keeping very little down in the process. “Death,” in the form of the Grim Reaper (John Cleese), finally arrives at a dinner party, taking the guests away to Paradise, where none other than Tony Bennett (Graham Chapman) and buxom chorus girls serenade one and all with the spectacle of “Christmas in Heaven.”

The film’s main linking device is the most Pythonic element of the film: A group of fish (played by the six Pythons) repeatedly muse about the meaning of life as they witness fellow fish being served up on plates in a restaurant. They also at times call out the filmmakers for not getting to the point (“Not much happening at the moment, is there?”).

The Making of

Producer John Goldstone sold the concept to Universal Pictures just on the basis of a one-page synopsis, and song lyrics written by Eric Idle. (“There’s everything in this movie, everything that fits, from the meaning of life in the Universe, to girls with great big tits.”)

The film’s stand-out production number was “Every Sperm Is Scared.” The song, written by Terry Jones and Michael Palin and choreographed by Arlene Phillips (“Annie”), features street urchins, nuns, stilt-walkers and others dancing and singing in the streets of Yorkshire. “We weren’t deliberately parodying anything,” said Jones. “It was in a very ‘Oliver!’ style, although I’m not sure I’ve ever seen ‘Oliver!’ But I know what it’s like!”

The most unforgettable scene, however, was the Mr. Creosote sketch, which brought projectile vomiting to new heights of cinematic artistry. At one point the crowd in the restaurant is sprayed with the vomit concoction, filled with vegetables and Russian salad dressing: “The catapult held like 20 or 30 gallons,” said Jones, “and hit everything spot-on. But for that we had to select the extras with the cheap costumes!”

In addition to his animated bits, such as a family of falling leaves, Gilliam contributed the 15-minute “The Crimson Permanent Assurance,” in which he was able to test out miniature special effects techniques that would be invaluable later in shooting “Brazil.” “It was originally a cartoon,” Terry Gilliam said of his short film. “By then I was so terribly keen to escape from animation. I wanted to convince them that I could make my own little film. I had my own sound stage, my own everything.”

“We kept going to his studio next door,” recalled Jones, “and he had these huge sets compared to what we had.”

The segment was initially planned to be part of the main film, but grew longer and longer, and according to Gilliam, didn’t match the rhythm of the rest of “Meaning of Life.” “I cut it shorter and shorter and the others kept saying, ‘No, it’s still too long.'”

So the entire segment became a separate film. “And then it became a better idea,” said Gilliam. “Because not only is it a short subject before the film, but then it attacks the main film later on. . . . Still the great thing with Python was that we were able to do this, to have that kind of freedom to just pull things apart completely.”


“The Meaning of Life” captured the Jury Prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.

Comments Off on Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)

Filed under Films

Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go (2014)

Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go” 
Director: Aubrey Powell
Release Date: 1 November 2014
Running Time: 2:40

Filmed live on July 20th on the final night of the run of ten sold out performances at The O2 in London, “Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go” sees the five surviving members – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin – together with Carol Cleveland, perform many of their classic sketches and much-loved songs.

The show also encompasses film inserts from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Terry Gilliam’s iconic animations, outrageous dance routines by an ensemble of twenty and a fantastic live orchestra. The show cements the Python’s reputation as the most influential comedy group of all time and, more importantly, still one of the funniest. “Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go” is the ultimate Monty Python show.

Bonus Material

– Behind the scenes “Sneak Peeks” of:
– The Reunion – November 2013
– The Announcement – November 2013
– The Production – November 2013 to July 2014
– Backstage At The O2 – July 2014
– Highlights from the 10 Shows at London’s O2 Arena – July 2014
– Plus exclusive footage of the Pythons as Pepperpots and Gumbys.

Comments Off on Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go (2014)

Filed under Films