This year marks the 40th anniversary of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and as the group has always been upfront about shamelessly milking their fans for cash, there’s a new version of the Blu-Ray out, and a new print touring the world. John Cleese and Eric Idle are currently also on an American tour, sharing the stage as a duo for the first time. Michael Palin has a book tour for the third volume of his diaries. Terry Jones is still working on movies and plugging charities on his Twitter stream. Terry Gilliam has an autobiography coming out this month. And Graham Chapman, despite his beautiful plumage, is still dead.
However, the Pythons are giving a few things away and one of them is the above compilation of unused animations by Gilliam from the Holy Grail. They can be found on the new Blu-Ray, but the group’s official Youtube channel is sharing them-—first with Gilliam’s commentary, then with sound effects—for free.
These animations are links between the skits that make up Holy Grail, and include dragons, giants, and a very large snail. Gilliam took a lot of the illustrations that he didn’t do himself from a book on illuminated manuscripts, and, seeing them all together in one go, one can imagine an alternative universe where the animator makes an entire movie this way. (On the commentary track, he half-jokingly describes himself as “the man who could have gone on to become a great animator but was forced into live action film.”)
As per Python, a lot of the commentary track berates the viewer for throwing money away on a redundant version of what the consumer probably owns, and how Gilliam isn’t getting paid enough to do this. (Cue some coinage sound effects and Gilliam gets back on mic.)
If this kind of archiving is going on, it would be interesting to know the status of Gilliam’s other animations for both Python and the various shows he did in the years running up to it. There are indeed some interesting early works out there that need a facelift.
As for Gilliam and the Holy Grail, he says he doesn’t watch it:
I’m glad it makes a lot of money and keeps me in the style I’ve grown accustomed to. But watch it again? Why? We’ve got lives to lead.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.