Written by Pirata Hermosa
Forty years ago five highly educated Brits and an American lampoon artist came together to form one of the world’s funniest comedy troops. And to commemorate that union, a three-DVD set was released containing a six-part documentary ranging from their meager beginnings through their height of popularity up until present day.
Monty Python is such a huge name in comedy that everybody has already formed an opinion on their comedy. They either get it, or they don’t. If you’re one of those who get it, then you will enjoy this piece of Python history.
Being that it’s six hours worth of material, you really get a sense of what it was like behind the scenes. With all of the silliness going on, it’s a true learning experience as you discover that they are all college educated and honed their comedic skills at places such as Oxford.
There are also many pieces of interesting trivia that would satisfy and Python fan. John Cleese was embarrassed by his celebrity. Graham Chapman was an alcoholic who could barely remember his lines and nobody realized it. And some huge names in rock ‘n' roll (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, George Harrison) helped finance The Holy Grail and The Life of Brian.
The documentary is very interesting, but at the same time it comes across very sterile. Each person is interviewed against a black background and by themselves. There is never a moment when they are all together, which leaves a huge nagging question in the back of your mind. Why aren’t they together? They talk fondly of one another but not being in the same room makes you wonder if there are some issues keeping them apart.
Even so, there is enough sketch material scattered throughout the interviews that it keeps your attention and breaks up what could have developed into monotony. There is also a smattering of celebrity commentary throughout as such people like Seth Green, Bruce Dickinson, Dan Aykroyd, Simon Pegg, and several others comment on how important and influential their comedy was.
Disc 1 is divided into three parts.
- “The Not-So-Interesting Beginnings” which explores how they started off as young men in college, started working for the BBC, and eventually managed to start Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
- “The Much Funnier Second Episode” discusses the first season and brings in other current comedians to discuss the impact the show had on them and society as a whole.
- “And Now, The Personal Sordid Bits” shows how their success also brought down upon them the intervention of the BBC censors and how after their second season John Cleese wanted to leave.
Disc 2 is also divided into three parts
- “The Ultimate Holy Grail Episode” is a complete overview of how they wrote, directed and funded the film
- “Lust For Glory!” was the original name for the film that became The Life of Brian, and in this segment you see how the film was made.
- “Finally! The Last Episode (Ever) (for Now…)” as Monty Python gets ready to film The Meaning of Life, they are splintering apart and going their separate ways. The final segment also deals with the loss of Graham Chapman and his death from cancer at the age of 48.
Disc 3 contains a number of their classic sketches: “The Dead Parrot,” “The Spanish Inquisition,” “Fish Slapping Dance,” “Ministry of Silly Walks,” “The Lumberjack Song,” “The Cheese Shop,” and “SPAM.” It also includes extended interviews from the five surviving members and all the extras that were cut out of the documentary.