Is Monty Python and the Holy Grail actually about cosplay?

After doing a search on ‘python grail’, I got several threads from 10 years ago, but none of them dealt with one of the odder parts of the movie.

Obviously, the budget constraints of the time led to the wonderful silliness of actors pretending to ride horses while actually clacking coconuts together and then altering their gaits to something approximating a skip. Apparently the abrupt ending was also due to either running out of money or ideas.

My fiancee and I watched it last night. It was her first time. She loved it, but we started talking about how the police were there in the same mythical landscape that is inhabited by vorpal bunnies and a chasm of doom. Our best guess (fan-wank, I suppose) was that this entire story was actually of a bunch of guys playing a live action role play (LARP) game or what we call ‘cosplay’ these days.

What do y’all, the unwashed teeming hordes think about this conjecture?

Well, first, you should realize that the movie came out well before the term “cosplay” existed in English and before the term LARP was created:

Were there any people in 1975 in the U.K. who the members of Monty Python might have observed doing the equivalent of cosplay, whatever it was called? Not very many, at least. There were people at science fiction conventions who dressed as characters from books, but I don’t think that they had any effect on Monty Python, given how few there were. There were perhaps people equivalent to those in SCA, but I don’t think they had any effect on Monty Python either:

I think you’re trying to fit a current sensibility onto the minds of the filmmakers of 1975. Isolated people may have dressed up like current cosplayers. Such people weren’t nearly as common as now and were unlikely to have affected Monty Python.

The movie was about what would happen if you took a typical Monty Python skit and extended it to the ridiculous extreme, then ended it without actually coming to a conclusion(just like the endings of a good number of their television skits).

My interpretation is that they’re all mental patients who escaped from an institution, had an imaginary adventure, and were being arrested at the end. Not cosplay, but still set in the modern times.

If you are trying to create a plausible cohesive “universe” for a Monty Python sketch then you are missing the point. “Holy Grail” is an intentionally impossible wrecking together of an episodic mythology-based action-drama, a stage musical, and a scholarly documentary with re-enactments, among other things, which ends abruptly in the Pythonian style with an investigation into the murder of the documentary’s host. There is no consistent logic and that’s the point.

Thanks for the replies. This was the first time I had seen the movie in better than a decade, and I obviously applied modern concepts to what was probably just a long extended silly skit presenting the absurdity of MP using the semi-sacred Arthurian legends.

Frazzled, I like your idea too.

You shouldn’t try to attribute logic to a film entirely made up of nonsense. It was just a bunch of things that made them laugh, set against an actual plot (something they hadn’t really done before) (except arguably the Cycling Tour episode).

Note that the underlying concept of Monty Python is a parody of television itself and its various formats, conventions, and clichés. That’s what “Holy Grail” is doing with respect to the variety of contexts in which Arthurian legends can appear.

As a total aside, you may also want to be aware that cosplay and LARPing are not the same thing at all, and the hardcore participants or proponents of either (or both) will be grumpy at your conflating the two.

LARPing’s focus is on the game being played, with the characterization and costumes and audience all secondary. To a very real extent, a game like Mafia/werewolf counts as a very simple LARP with archetypes as characters and in ‘modern day’ costumes. In addition, LARPers tend to not want a mundane audience (in regular games) or not give a shit about potential audiences (at cons or other safe spaces). LARPing is also still very much done these days.

Cosplay is actually equally (roughly) as old as LARP, but the focus is on physically showing off to others the results from being impressed/inspired/obsessed with a particular character, specific show, or (less commonly) a specific costume. Someone walking around at a convention in costume (or posting a set of staged scenes as a photoshoot to the net), with the mannerisms of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow obviously on display is a cosplayer acting in character to enhance the cosplay experience for themselves and for viewers.

Both do have some elements in common with Holy Grail, but I agree with the others upthread that Monty Python is not either. In my opinion, they’re simply doing comedic sketch routines, which as an artform are most likely related to the tradition of Pantos and Punch and Judy routines.

Just like they made fun of furries before that was even a thing.

The møøse was definitely not a furry, a cosplayer, or a LARPer.

Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretti nasti

Stop that! It’s silly.

Two others – “Michael Ellis” and “Mr. Neutron” – also had something of a plot. Also, “The Golden Age of Ballooning” a story that wen about 2/3rds of the episode. All were fourth season episodes; “Mr. Neutron” is by far the worst episode of the series.

Everybody’s forgetting episode 7, the last 21 minutes and change of which (out of 28) was given over to a story about blancmanges turning everybody in the UK into scotsmen in order to win at Wimbeldon.

<Cardinal Ximenez> Three…three others had something of a plot.

You have been sacked.

I guess we’ll just have to wait for Bicycle Repair Man to save the day…

I am Cheshire, King of the Britons.

As a slight aside, was Life of Brian the only Monty Python movie with an actual ending? I remember watching it and being totally shocked. They didn’t leave anything hanging at all.

Well, except for the obvious.

My sister was bitten by a moose.