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Book about the Film Monty Python and the Holy Grail: All the References from African Swallows to Zoot

by Darl Larsen Rowman and Littlefield
Pub Date:
Pbk 632 pages
AU$62.99 NZ$66.08
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Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired from 1969 until 1974, but the conclusion of the series did not mark the end of the troupe’s creative output. Even before the final original episodes were recorded and broadcast, the six members began work on their first feature-length enterprise of new material. Rather than string together a series of silly skits, they conceived a full-length story line with references to the real and imagined worlds of the mythical King Arthur, the lives of medieval peasants, and the gloomy climate of 1970s Britain. Released in 1975, Monty Python and the Holy Grail was a modest success but has since been hailed as a modern classic.


In A Book about the Film Monty Python and the Holy Grail:All the References from African Swallows to Zoot, Darl Larsen identifies and examines the cultural, historical, and topical allusions in the movie. In this entertaining resource, virtually every reference that appears in a scene - whether stated by a character, depicted in the mise-en-scène, or mentioned in the print companion - is identified and explained. Beyond the Arthurian legend, entries cover literary metaphors, symbols, names, peoples, and places - as well as the myriad social, cultural, and historical elements that populate the film.   


This book employs the film as a window to both reveal and examine “Arthurian” life and literature, the historical Middle Ages, and a Great Britain of labor unrest, power shortages, and the common man. Introducing the reader to dozens of medievalist histories and authors and connecting the film concretely to the “modern” British Empire, A Book about the Film Monty Python and the Holy Grail will appeal to fans of the troupe as well as medieval scholars and academics who can laugh at themselves and their work.

List of Abbreviations
Scene 1 Title and Credit Sequence
Scene 2 Coconuts and Swallows
Scene 3 Animation / Live Action Sequence
Scene 4 “Bring Out Your Deada
Scene 5 Dennis the Peasant
Scene 6 The Black Knight
Scene 7 Flagellant Monks and “She's a Witch!a
Scene 8 Various Montage'Animation
Scene 9 “The Book of the Filma
Scene 10 Camelot (“It Is a Silly Placea)
Scene 11 God Announces the Grail Quest
Scene 12 Title Sequence Animation
Scene 13 Taunting by Frenchmen
Scene 14 The Wooden Rabbit
Scene 15 A Very Famous Historian
Scene 16 The Tale of Sir Robin
Scene 17 The Tale of Sir Galahad and Springboard Novitiates
Scene 18 Castle Anthrax
Scene 19 Animation / Live Action Scene 24
Scene 20 The Blind Soothsayer or “Scene 24a
Scene 21 The Knights Who Say “Nia
Scene 22 Dead Historian and Police
Scene 23 The Tale of Sir Launcelot'“Bloody Weathera
Scene 24 The Tale of Sir Launcelot Scene
Scene 25 Launcelot and Concorde
Scene 26 Launcelot Storms Swamp Castle
Scene 27 Toothless Old Crone and Roger the Shrubber
Scene 28 Knights of Ni Get Their Shrubbery
Scene 29 The Dead Historian Covered
Scene 30 King Brian the Wild
Scene 31 Passing Seasons Animation
Scene 32 Tim the Enchanter
Scene 33 Killer Rabbit and Holy Hand Grenade
Scene 34 The Cave of Caerbannog
Scene 35 The Bridge of Death
Scene 36 The Wonderful Barge and the Grail Castle
Scene 37 Stop the Film
Appendix A Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Book) Facing Pages
Appendix B Personal Correspondence
About the Author

This book is an in-depth analysis of the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which has become a cult film in the USA, and has more recently been revived as the musical Spamalot. . . .This book will be a great help to those who want to understand appreciate this quite remarkable film. The Monty Python team went on to make two more films. Beyond this, individual members went on to make other films; some comic history, some political and social comment and some more mainstream drama. The start of all this is here. . . .There is a good index and a very full bibliography. An appendix explains the drawings in the 'book'.
Darl Larsen is professor in both the Media Arts department and the Center for Animation at Brigham Young University, where he teaches film, animation, screenwriting, and popular culture studies. He is the author of Monty Python, Shakespeare and English Renaissance Drama (2003), Monty Python's Flying Circus: An Utterly Complete, Thoroughly Unillustrated, Absolutely Unauthorized Guide to Possibly All the References (Taylor, 2013), and A Book about the Film Monty Python's Life of Brian: All the References from Assyrians to Zeffirelli (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).