Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go, Blu-ray (2014)

by | Nov 15, 2014 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Monty Python Live (mostly) – One Down Five to Go, Blu-ray (2014)  

Cast: Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam
Director: Aubrey Powell & Eric Idle
Music: Orch. cond. by John du Prez
Studio: Entertainment One/ Universal EMBRO351929 [11/11/14]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 HD
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, PCM 2.0
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Danist, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: The Reunion – Nov. 2013, The Announcement – Nov. 2013, The Production – 2013 & ’14, Backstage at the O2 – July 2014, Highlights from ten shows at London’s 02 arena, Green screen footage of the Pepperpots and Gumbys
Length: 2 hrs. 40 min.
Rating: *****

The five surviving Pythons (Dr. Graham Chapman died in 1989) announced at a press conference in 2013 that they were reuniting for a valedictory live stage show in 2014. Their final reunion performance (so or they claim) was watched live at The O2 in London by an audience of 15,000, plus being simulcast on TV and in cinemas to an estimated worldwide audience of 50 million. Plus they have a popular YouTube channel. (We reviewed a Monty Python Blu-ray back in 2009.)

Their influence on comedy in general has became synonymous with rampant silliness and not taking anything at all seriously. During their big time success on video in the 1970s they didn’t do live shows like this, and it’s a kick to see them in great form now in front of this huge audience. They cover many of their favorite bits, such as the dead parrot and the cheese sketches (which are combined in one, with Cleese forgetting some of his lines), the lumberjack song, the Spanish Inquisition (which no one suspects), the philosophers’ soccer match, and the fish-slapping dance. Some of the bits, such as the latter two, are video clips from their original TV series. Instead of having John Cleese do his famous silly walk, there is a big sign reading ”Ministry of Silly Walks” while the choreography of the many dancers below incorporates some of the silly walks’ bits in it. (Cleese has quite a beer belly now and didn’t want to exert himself for the silly walk.) Some of the dance numbers and songs probably wouldn’t have made it past the censors back in the day. There are several bits with the Pythons in drag; seemed to be a frequent thing with them and is usually hilarious. (John Cleese as Ann Elk and her theory gets me every time.) One clip from the TV series is shown of Graham Chapman in uniform urging the other Pythons to stop being so silly and to get down to some healthy outdoor humor. I never could quite understand the sketches that featured the Gumbys; one can find details on them in Wikipedia but I’m still lost – perhaps you need to be British to appreciate it.

Terry Gilliam is brought in to perform on an equal level with the other Pythons, though on the original series he was the only American of the six and was confined to doing the bizarre animation on each show, not appearing on the screen. He did some additional new animation just for this production. All the Pythons seem to enjoy working together greatly, in spite of the revelation Cleese recently made in an interview about hating Terry Gilliam. The musical numbers created by the talented Eric Idle are featured strongly, some of them coming from the Pythons’ feature films, such as The Life of Brian: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

A crazy and hilarious entertainment for sure, for all except perhaps Catholics without a sense of humor.

—John Sunier

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