This is in retrospect a far more substantial work than HOLY GRAIL, the film it most closely(superficially) resembles(because both films show the ugly, muddy, crap-filled medieval world one sees in Pasolini's CANTERBURY TALES, which heavily influenced the look of both films). I feel it gets short shrift because it's subtler and quieter. Don't watch this film if you're looking for quick, easy laughs.
The film is about the way capitalism profits from panic. A monster who savagely devours people is terrifying the countryside; everybody wants to get into the city--the effect this has on things like agriculture & so forth is obvious. Prices go up, famine reigns, & the merchants & church couldn't be happier at having a captive market--so much so that when the king decides to find a champion to kill the monster the merchants hire an assassin to kill him. Does this sound at all like the world we live in now?
Plus which it's a good insight into the medieval mind; substitute the Black Death for the monster and you have the situation in England throughout the 14th century. The presence of Palin is misleading. This is not a Python film and should not be seen as such. It's an original vision of Alverson & Gilliam's and well worth watching, several times.
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