as the opening credits for monty Python And The Holy Grail roll by, you start to laugh. It's involuntary, and it feels good. Initially, you may be fighting off a sense of guilt about interrupting the images of the World Trade Centre that are streaming through your mind. But you'll begin to relax when King Arthur (Graham Chapman) comes prancing across the Scottish landscape pretending to ride a horse while his manservant smacks together a pair of coconuts. It's so silly, but brilliantly silly, and if there was ever a time to enjoy the genius of Monty Python, it's now.
The 1975 film is being re-released with a new negative and stereo soundtrack, but, to be frank, neither the images nor the sounds seem any sharper than the original version we've enjoyed on TV and video.
Considering that it was made on a budget of less than half a million dollars and was completed in five weeks, it's amazing the film looks as polished as it does. That financing came from English rockers like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull, who had more faith in Python's initial leap into movies than such filmmaking institutions as Rank or EMI.
This version also comes with 23 seconds of footage never before seen. Don't turn your head during Sir Galahad's (Michael Palin) scene in Castle Anthrax or you'll miss the added moment when Dingo (Carol Cleveland) looks at the camera and asks whether she should go ahead with her seduction of Galahad, followed by a montage of characters telling her to get on with it.
It's funny, but it has no effect on the film whatsoever.
Monty Python And The Holy Grail has become one of cinema's great speak-along films. Many viewers know most, if not all, of the film's dialogue, so you can bet you'll hear mutterings of "Ni, ni" or "They call me Tim!" coming out of the dark.
I usually can't stand people talking during movies, but I'll make an exception for this one. I can't think of a better tonic for the blues than sitting alongside fellow Python fans, sharing a communal laugh at one of the best comedies ever made.
monty python and the holy grail directed by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, written by and starring Jones, Gilliam, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin, produced by Mark Forstater. 90 minutes. A Creative Exposure release. Opens Friday (September 21). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 98. Rating: NNNNN