Sony // 1975 // 92 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Mike Pinsky (Retired) // October 23rd, 2006
"That's, uh, that's enough music for now, lads. Looks like there's dirty work afoot."- Sir Robin (Eric Idle)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is now a serious rival to Army of Darkness in the sheer number of DVD editions released so far. There is no use asking, of course, why Sony keeps packaging and repackaging and repackaging this movie so that every vertebrate within fifteen feet of a TV remote (and that includes aquarium fish) has access to a copy. This is Sony, after all, whose marketing department, I have asserted time and again, is run by chimpanzees on psychotropic drugs. And possibly given orders by Satan.
Since everyone living on Earth during the last release of this film already knows the plot, I offer this brief synopsis for those who have arrived from other planets in the meantime, where your local PBS station may not have broadcast Monty Python's Flying Circus back in the '70s: King Arthur (Graham Chapman) wears a snordlap (badly, I might add) while moving his bipedal form over harmless vegetation (do not fear -- no sentient grasses or fungi were harmed) in search of a ritualistic talisman. He is joined (not sexually, strangely enough) by several underlings, most notably Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones), Sir Robin (Eric Idle), Sir Galahad (Michael Palin), and Sir Lancelot (John Cleese). Many of the same actors also play other roles, even other genders (although I should note that there are only two genders here, as humans have no forfloppits). No major geophysical events happen, and there are no emotional color displays (as humans also have no griffjot wings, the poor bastards). Eventually, the movie ends. No children are eaten. This, as you know is funny just by itself. What primitive savages.
And for those of you who were recently born in the few months since the last DVD release and need your own synopsis: a-pfft gblh aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! spitty bubble.
So now everyone is caught up. The part you missed is that over the last few years, Sony keeps re-releasing this movie in packages that weakly announce that they are "ultimate definitive final" editions, most notably the 2001 two-disc "special edition" set. This set was released again in a fancy "collector's edition" -- and again (the first disc only) in a three-pack with other Python-related films. What is new exactly that makes this edition "extraordinarily deluxe" as opposed to merely "special?" The last major upgrade, for the "special edition," was pretty good, offering a 5.1 surround mix (which admittedly could only do so much with a soundtrack originally in mono) and a cleaned-up image (which admittedly could only do so much with a film that sometimes looks like it was shot on a home movie camera). The "deluxe" edition reframes the film to its original 1.66:1 ratio. Sony also apparently spent some pocket change to clean up the picture even more. Huzzah! Sony also finally fixed the Swedish subtitles over the opening credits. Yes, I am as shocked as you are about this.
Anyway, if you compare the two frames I tried to capture here (although they are not exact), you can see that the reframed version is brighter and slightly sharper. Colors are more natural as well. There does not appear to be a huge difference, but it is nice to know that the new edition is actually improved, as opposed to Sony simply repackaging the old transfer with some new extras.
Previous Special Edition:
New Extraordinarily Deluxe Two-Disc
Disc Two features a new section added to the menu with some additional goodies. First up, a trivia game with various difficulty levels (including a quiz on the DVD extras and one for people who don't like the movie). Then, some audio clips from soundtrack to the Broadway musical Spamalot, just in case Eric Idle needed to pay for some dental work this week. No video, so they only have to pay the actors for their photographs used in the lumage animation. Finally, a mock trailer for the "extraordinarily deluxe edition" you are actually watching and some facetious instructions for playing the soundtrack CD, which serves as this "two-disc" set's unheralded third disc. So much for math skills.
Soundtrack CD? Yes, back in 1975, the Pythons released The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It included audio clips from the film, interspersed with original sketches revolving around the film's "premiere." My favorite was always the randy logic professor (John Cleese) whose deconstruction of the witch burning scene turned ridiculously perverse (at least to my pre-teen ears). I wore out my LP, then two cassette versions of this album over the years. And here it is again, for your iPodding pleasure, including all the jokes that your kids, born after the death of the LP, will not get ("This is side two! If you want to play the record from the beginning, please turn over!"). Well, except for the fact that there is allegedly a newly remastered version of this CD with bonus tracks coming out, and this doesn't appear to be it. So you Python fans are going to have to go out and buy this CD all over again.
And so, as if in a scene out of Terry Gilliam's Brazil, we will be stuck buying the same movie over and over again and cheerily pretending it is something new. The target market for this "extraordinarily deluxe edition" appears to be either hardcore, obsessive fans of the movie who dress up as their favorite characters during clandestine Holy Grail fan conventions (similar to Society for Creative Anachronism events, but with paler skin) or families of toddlers who might have put an earlier DVD of the film in the food processor.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that this last suggestion was made by my father, who does not own a copy of the disc nor has much interest in it. So Sony, you've still got one person left to sell the next DVD edition to, but only if you release one that does not actually include the movie.)
Oh well, I can imagine worse movies (possibly ones made by George Lucas) that we could be suckered into buying repeatedly. And Sony has improved the transfer, so if you have somehow been holding out on buying an "ultimate definitive final" version of the film, you can feel safe in the knowledge that, even if that statement is a bald-faced lie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Extraordinarily Deluxe Edition is worth your twenty bucks.
Review content copyright © 2006 Mike Pinsky; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Commentary Tracks
* Screenplay Subtitles
* Subtitles for People Who Don't Like the Film
* "Follow the Killer Rabbit" Feature
* Complete Soundtrack CD
* Spamalot Medley
* Trivia Quizzes
* Location Featurette
* "How to Use Your Coconuts"
* Japanese Dub Featurette
* LEGO Parody
* 1974 Location Report
* Cast Directory
* Sketch Gallery
* Mock DVD Trailer
* Theatrical Trailers
* Python Online
* DVD Verdict: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition)
* DVD Verdict: And Now For Something Completely Hilarious Collection