Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Blu-ray) (1975)

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Released 22-Aug-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Main Menu Introduction
Karaoke-Singalong
Featurette-Quest For Holy Grail Locations
Featurette-Coconuts, Lego Knights
Audio Commentary-Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam
Audio Commentary-John Cleese, Michael Palin and Eric Idle
Active Subtitle Track-The White Rabbit
Audio-Only Track-The Hard Of Hearing
Featurette-Japanese Version
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-BBC Film Night
Gallery-Photo
Gallery-Poster
Trailer-4
Deleted Scenes-and Outtakes with Introduction by Terry Jones
Deleted Scenes-Lost Animations with Introduction by Terry Gilliam
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 93:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terry Gilliam
Terry Jones
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Eric Idle
Terry Gilliam
Terry Jones
Michael Palin
Connie Booth
Carol Cleveland
Neil Innes
Bee Duffell
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $49.95 Music Neil Innes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
Hindi
English Audio Commentary
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a defining comedy of our era. Or perhaps I should say of my era. Anyone born after the 70s sitting down to watch the Blu-ray of this movie may wonder what the fuss is all about. For the Python style of comedy, a mixture of university cleverness and surrealism doesn't feature much on the current comedic landscape. Whilst a few television shows such as The Mighty Boosh might tap into the surrealistic vein of Monty Python current cinema comedy is far more mainstream where the situation dictates the humour not the witticism of the script. There are exceptions. Last year’s Horrible Bosses had a script of tight wordplay combined with excellent acting.

     The era of Monty Python is over. Python aficionados will be able to remember when they first saw Holy Grail on the big screen. For me it was a few years after the initial release. On a Saturday night at a boarding school where a group of boys had gathered to see a film that only some had heard of and probably none had seen. The opening moments with the crazy credits about mooses and llamas started to generate laughs. But that moment, when King Arthur comes over the hillside to the sound of hoof beats, only for the audience to realise his loyal assistant is making the horse noises with coconut shells, drew peals of laughter that didn't stop until the last moments of the film.

     Monty Python's Flying Circus had been absent from our television screens for some years when Holy Grail appeared at the cinemas. The effect of the film and the subsequent soundtrack (which I played to death on a cassette) led to a golden era for the Monty Python troupe with Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life. This was an era, difficult to comprehend now, whether people who could perform the parrot sketch were the cool guys at the party! Like I said, difficult to understand now. Holy Grail was made on a limited budget of £229,575. I know that figure because the Pythons included a statement of financial position and cost of production statement at the back of the book of the film! It has had a decent life on DVD with initial releases followed by collector’s editions. The previous reviews on this site can be found here:

     As with the release of other catalogue titles on Blu-ray the question is whether this is an essential purchase. Of course, for true-fans there is no question. They will pre-order the film. For other, more casual fans, the question has three parts :

  1. is the video transfer an improvement over the DVD;
  2. is the sound transfer an improvement over the DVD;
  3. are there sufficient new extras to improve the package?

     The answers to these questions see below…

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Holy Grail comes to Blu-ray in the original aspect ratio 1.66:1. That is nothing new. The last release, the Extraordinary Edition, was in the correct ratio.

    Comparing the Collector’s Edition and a Blu-ray shows a massive increase in the image quality. The image is so much sharper such that the intricate details of the insignia can be seen on each of the Knights of the Round Table. The colours are so much brighter and more vivid.

     The print has clearly gone through a good clean-up as the positive and negative artefacts that were to be found on the DVD are nowhere to be seen. It looks freshly minted. The film features a good deal of smoke, the bane of DVD transfers, yet this has been rendered excellently on the Blu-ray without a hint of compression.

     It is not perfect. At the conclusion of the scene where Roger the Shrubber chastises Arthur and Sir Bedever for saving "Ni!" to an old woman there is a marked drop in image quality, which continues into the first shot of the next scene, where Arthur returns with a shrubbery for the Knights Who Say Ni. It would be interesting to learn why this segment looks worse than the rest of the film however it is not covered in either of the audio commentaries. Importantly, it is also present in the previous DVD editions suggesting that it may have been an unfixable problem, perhaps requiring interpolation of material from a video copy.

     Additionally, it must be remembered that this is a low-budget film from 1974. Even in its improved high-definition state it never achieves reference quality or anything like it. The grain that has been present in the DVD transfers is still present and the image quality is generally soft. What can be said is that those scenes which looked good in the DVD look even better on Blu-ray.

     The subtitles on offer are the same as the DVD including the subtitles taken from Shakespeare's Henry IV Part Two for those people who don't like the film!

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     As well as the previous soundtracks on the Collector’s Edition and Extraordinary Deluxe Edition DVD's this Blu-ray has as its prime soundtrack a English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

     It is probably a debatable question whether this film really requires any sonic fireworks. The major improvements over the DVD, which carried a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, are the improvements in the punchiness and sound quality of the music and occasional sound effects. The dialogue is still easy to hear and understand.

     There are improvements principally in the horn sounds such as the questing theme that runs through the film.

     The fireball bursts when Tim the Enchanter lets fly gives the sub-woofer something to do. Otherwise, the new track sounds clearer and sharper to the ear and is a general improvement over the DVD.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are 1,000,001 extras on this Blu-ray release. However, the fact is that the extras provided were already present on the previous editions of the DVD. These are as follows :

     There are only two, perhaps 2 1/2 extras available. These are:

Lost Animations

     these animations feature a commentary and introduction from Terry Gilliam. They are interesting to see as Gilliam is clearly surprised at some of the work that was shelved. Being almost 40 years on he clearly can't remember much of it but it is nevertheless worth seeing.

Outtakes and Extended Scenes

     Terry Jones provides an introduction on the outtakes and extended scenes. The outtakes generally consist of the team stuffing up their lines and John Cleese, ever the serious one, complaining about distractions. These scenes are worth a look but are not essential.

The Holy Book of Days

     I said two and a half extras. The half extra is an iPad application The Holy Book of Days which links to the movie and allows you to experience additional material. However, it is not really an extra as it needs to be purchased albeit at a fairly low cost. In comparing this Blu-ray with the overseas release I noted a reference to a cashback offer for purchases of the Blu-ray. At this stage we have been supplied with a test disc only and it is not clear whether the app purchase will be the subject of a rebate for local purchases. We will update this site when that information becomes available.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  This release appears to be the same as the other Region releases.

Summary

     It is difficult to believe that Monty Python and the Holy Grail is now almost 40 years old. Much of the humour is still as fresh and inventive now as it was in its day. This Blu-ray release is an essential purchase for those who love their Monty Python and the picture and sound quality won't disappoint. As far as extras go these are a little limited but, to be fair, there is probably little much more that can be said about the film particularly from the participants.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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