Holy Grail Working Script Part 1
|Notes about this script:|
This is the 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' screenplay as it appeared on March 20, 1974. It's a 'working' version of the script., NOT the final script that was filmed. In reading this, you'll be able to see the creative process at work. Many of the scenes were altered from the way they were originally written and others disappeared entirely. Other bits, including some of the funniest and most quoted lines from the film were written into this version of the script, and others were added in later on during filming. I've color-coded the changes so you can follow them more easily.
Some of the key points to watch out for: The 'King Brian the Wild' scene (and several characters that appeared only in that scene) disappeared entirely. A few other minor characters, like Sir Gawain, also were eliminated. The scene in which Sir Robin meets the 3-headed Knight was extensively re-written. The 'shrubbery', 'Knights of Ni' and 'Bridge of Death' scenes also were changed quite a lot from how they were originally planned. One rather famous change that doesn't appear here is the 'Directors Cut' of the Castle Anthrax scene. That wasn't included in this version of the script, so I didn't add it.
I've resisted adding this script onto the site for over a year now because I know I'm going to get flooded with e-mails from clueless newbies (most from AOL probably) trying to get me to fix the errors in this script because their version of the movie is different. REMEMBER! This is not the way the film was shot. A lot of things were changed between this version and the final screenplay. Many lines were changed, added, eliminated or were said by different characters. The staging was altered from the directions contained here. DO NOT e-mail me with things like 'You have the Black Knight scene wrong. Fix it!!' This will merely prove just how ignorant you truly are.
|.||BLACK: Regular text. The way the script was originally written|
|.||GREY: Originally written into the script, but crossed out by this time.|
|.||GREEN: Not included in the original draft. Had been pencilled in by this version.|
|.||PINK: Staging directions|
[1 EXTERIOR - CASTLE WALLS - DAY]
[Mist. Several seconds of it swirling about. silence possibly, atmospheric music. SUPERIMPOSE 'England AD 787'. after a few more seconds we hear hoofbeats in the distance. They come slowly closer. Then out of the mist comes KING ARTHUR followed by a SERVANT who is banging two half coconuts together. ARTHUR raises his hand.]
ARTHUR: Whoa there!
[SERVANT makes noises of horses halting, with a flourish. ARTHUR peers through the mist. CUT TO shot from over his shoulder: castle (e.g. Bodium) rising out of the mist. On the castle battlements a SOLDIER is dimly seen. He peers down.]
SOLDIER: Halt! Who goes there?
ARTHUR: It is I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, from the castle of Camelot. King of all Britons, defeator of the Saxons, sovereign of all England!
SOLDIER: Get away!
ARTHUR: I am... And this my trusty servant, Patsy. We have ridden the length and breadth of the land in search of knights who will join our court at Camelot.. I must speak with your lord and master.
SOLDIER: What? Ridden on a horse?
SOLDIER: You're using coconuts!
SOLDIER: You've got two empty halves of coconuts and you're banging them together.
ARTHUR: (Scornfully) So? We have ridden since the snows of winter covered this land, through the kingdom of Mercea.
SOLDIER: Where did you get the coconuts?
ARTHUR: Through ... We found them.
SOLDIER: Found them? In Mercea. The coconut's tropical!
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
SOLDIER: Well, this is a temperate zone.
ARTHUR: The swallow may fly south with the sun, or the house martin or the plover seek warmer hot lands in winter, yet these are not strangers to our land.
SOLDIER: Are you suggesting coconuts migrate?
ARTHUR: Not at all. They could be carried.
SOLDIER: What? A swallow carrying a coconut?
ARTHUR: Why not?
SOLDIER: I'll tell you why not ... because a swallow is about eight inches long and weighs five ounces, and you'd be lucky to find a coconut under a pound.
ARTHUR: It could grip it by the husk ...
SOLDIER: It's not a question of where he grips it, It's a simple matter of weight - ratios ... A five-ounce bird could not hold a a one pound coconut.
ARTHUR: Well, it doesn't matter. Go and tell your master that Arthur from the Court of Camelot is here.
[A Slight pause. Swirling mist. Silence.]
SOLDIER: Look! To maintain Velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings four hundred and ninety three times every second. right?
ARTHUR: (irritated) Please!
SOLDIER: Am I right?
ARTHUR: I'm not interested.
SECOND SOLDIER: (who has loomed up on the battlements) It could be carried by an African swallow!
FIRST SOLDIER: Oh yes! An African swallow maybe ... but not a European swallow. that's my point.
SECOND SOLDIER: Oh yes, I agree there ...
ARTHUR: (losing patience) Will you ask your master if he wants to join the Knights of Camelot?!
FIRST SOLDIER: But then of course African swallows are non-migratory.
SECOND SOLDIER: Oh yes.
[ARTHUR raises his eyes heavenwards and nods to PATSY. They turn and go off into the mist.]
FIRST SOLDIER: So they wouldn't be able to bring a coconut back anyway.
SECOND SOLDIER: Wait a minute! Suppose two swallows carried it together?
FIRST SOLDIER: No, they'd have to have it on a line.
[Stillness. Silence again.]
[2 ANIMATION/LIVE ACTION SEQUENCE - DEATH AND DEVASTATION]
[CUT TO Terry Gilliam's sequence of Brueghel prints. Sounds of strange medieval music. Discordant and sparse. Wailings and groanings. The last picture mixes through into live action. BIG CLOSE UP of contorted face upside down. A leg falls across it. Creaking noise. The bodies lurch away from CAMERA to reveal they are amongst a huge pile of bodies on a swaying cart that is lumbering away from CAMERA. It is pulled by a couple of ragged, dirty emaciated WRETCHES. Behind the cart walks another MAN who looks slightly more prosperous, but only on the scale of complete and utter impoverishment. He wears a black hood and looks sinister.)
CART DRIVER: Bring out your dead!
[We follow the cart through a wretched, impoverished plague-ridden village. A few starved mongrels run about in the mud scavenging. In the open doorway of one house perhaps we jug glimpse a pair of legs dangling from the ceiling. In another doorway an OLD WOMAN is beating a cat against a wall rather like one does with a mat. The cart passes round a dead donkey or cow in the mud. And a MAN tied to a cart is being hammered to death by four NUNS with huge mallets.]
CART DRIVER: Bring out your dead!
[There are legs stick out of windows and doors. Two MEN are fighting in the mud - covered from head to foot in it. Another MAN is on his hands in knees shovelling mud into his mouth. We just catch sight of a MAN falling into a well.]
CART DRIVER: Bring out your dead!
LARGE MAN: Here's one!
CART DRIVER: Ninepence.
BODY: I'm not dead!
CART DRIVER: What?
LARGE MAN: Nothing... There's your ninepence.
BODY: I'm not dead!
CART DRIVER: 'Ere. He says he's not dead.
LARGE MAN: Yes he is.
BODY: I'm not!
CART DRIVER: He isn't.
LARGE MAN: He will be soon. He's very ill.
BODY: I'm getting better!
LARGE MAN: You're not. You'll be stone dead in a few minutes.
CART DRIVER: I can't take him like this. It's against regulations.
BODY: I don't want to go on the cart.
LARGE MAN: Don't be such a baby.
CART DRIVER: I can't take him.
BODY: I feel fine.
LARGE MAN: Do me a favour.
CART DRIVER: I can't.
LARGE MAN: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes. He won't be long.
CART DRIVER: I promised I'd be at the Robinson's. They've lost nine today.
LARGE MAN: When's your next round?
CART DRIVER: Thursday.
BODY: I think I'll go for a walk.
LARGE MAN: You're not fooling anyone you know. (to CART DRIVER) Isn't there anything you could do?
BODY: (singing unrecognisably) I feel happy... I feel happy.
[The CART DRIVER looks at the LARGE MAN for a moment. Then they both do a quick furtive look up and down the street. The CART DRIVER very swiftly brings up a club and hits the OLD MAN.]
LARGE MAN: (handing over the money at last) Thanks very much.
CART DRIVER: That's all right. See you on Thursday.
[They turn ... Suddenly all the village fall to their knees, touching forelocks etc. ARTHUR and PATSY ride into SHOT, slightly nose to the air, they ride through without acknowledging anybody. After they pass, the LARGE MAN turns to the CART DRIVER]
LARGE MAN: Who's that then?
CART DRIVER: (Grudgingly) I dunno, Must be a king.
LARGE MAN: Why?
CART DRIVER: He hasn't got shit all over him.
[3 EXTERIOR - DAY]
[ARTHUR and PATSY riding. They stop and look. We see a castle in the distance, and before it a PEASANT is working away on his knees trying to dig up the earth with his bare hands and a twig. ARTHUR and PATSY ride up, and stop before the PEASANT]
ARTHUR: Old woman!
ARTHUR: Man. I'm sorry. Old man, What knight live in that castle over there?
DENNIS: I'm thirty-seven.
DENNIS: I'm thirty-seven ... I'm not old.
ARTHUR: Well - I can't just say: 'Hey, Man!'
DENNIS: Well you could say: 'Dennis'
ARTHUR: I didn't know you were called Dennis.
DENNIS: You didn't bother to find out, did you?
ARTHUR: I've said I'm sorry about the old woman, but from the behind you looked ...
DENNIS: What I object to is that you automatically treat me like an inferior ...
ARTHUR: Well ... I AM king.
DENNIS: Oh, very nice. King, eh! I expect you've got a palace and fine clothes and courtiers and plenty of food. And how d'you get that? By exploiting the workers! By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the social and economic differences in our society! If there's EVER going to be any progress ...
[An OLD WOMAN appears.]
DENNIS:! There's some lovely filth down here ... Oh! how d'you do?
ARTHUR: How d'you do, good lady ... I am Arthur, King of the Britons ... can you tell me who lives in that castle?
OLD WOMAN: King of the WHO?
ARTHUR: The Britons.
OLD WOMAN: Who are the Britons?
ARTHUR: All of us are ... we are all Britons. [DENNIS winks at the OLD WOMAN.] ... and I am your king ....
OLD WOMAN: Ooooh! I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective ...
DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship, A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes ...
OLD WOMAN: There you are, bringing class into it again ...
DENNIS: That's what it's all about ... If only -
ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. What knight lives in that castle?
OLD WOMAN: No one lives there.
ARTHUR: Well, who is your lord?
OLD WOMAN: We don't have a lord.
DENNIS: I told you, We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune, we take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
DENNIS: ... But all the decision of that officer ...
ARTHUR: Yes, I see.
DENNIS: ... must be approved at a bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: ... but a two-thirds majority ...
ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to shut up.
OLD WOMAN: Order, eh -- who does he think he is?
ARTHUR: I am your king!
OLD WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.
ARTHUR: You don't vote for kings.
OLD WOMAN: Well, how did you become king, then?
ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held Excalibur aloft from the bosom of the water to signify by Divine Providence ... that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur ... That is why I am your king!
OLD WOMAN: Is Frank in? He'd be able to deal with this one.
DENNIS: Look, strange women lying on their backs in ponds handing out swords ... that's no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
DENNIS: You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
ARTHUR: Shut up!
DENNIS: I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, people would put me away!
ARTHUR: (Grabbing him by the collar) Shut up, will you. Shut up!
DENNIS: Ah! NOW ... we see the violence inherent in the system.
ARTHUR: Shut up!
[PEOPLE (i.e. other PEASANTS) are appearing and watching.]
DENNIS: (calling) Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help, help, I'm being repressed!
ARTHUR: (aware that people are now coming out and watching) Bloody peasant! (pushes DENNIS over into mud and prepares to ride off)
DENNIS: Oh, Did you hear that! What a give-away.
ARTHUR: Come on, patsy.
[They ride off.]
DENNIS: (in the background as we PULL OUT) did you see him repressing me, then? That's what I've been on about ...
[4 EXTERIOR - FOREST - DAY]
[MIX THROUGH to ARTHUR and PATSY riding through the forest. They pass rune stones. We TRACK with them. CLOSE-UPS of their faces as they ride. MIX to another TRACKING SHOT of them riding through the forest. They come to a clearing and stop, looking ahead intently. Their eyes light up.]
[Sound FX of fight.]
[CUT TO their eyeline. A clearing on the other side of which is a rough wooden foot-bridge across a stream. At the start of the bridge a tremendous fight is going on. A huge BLACK KNIGHT in black armour, his face totally masked in a visor, is fighting a slightly smaller KNIGHT in green armour. (Perhaps the GREEN KNIGHT's armour is identical to the BLACK KNIGHT's save for the colour.)]
[CUT BACK TO ARTHUR and PATSY. They watch, growing more impressed as they watch the fight.]
[CUT BACK TO the fight. The GREEN KNIGHT lunges at the BLACK KNIGHT, who avoids the blow with a skillful side-step and parry, knocking the sword out of the GREEN KNIGHT's hand.]
[CUT BACK TO ARTHUR and PATSY even more impressed.
[CUT BACK TO the fight. The GREEN KNIGHT has drawn out a particularly nasty mace or spiked ball and chain, much longer than the BLACK KNIGHT's sword.]
[ARTHUR narrows his eyes, wondering whether the BLACK KNIGHT will survive.]
[CUT BACK to the fight. The GREEN KNIGHT swings at the BLACK KNIGHT, who ducks under the first swing, leaps over the second and starts to close on the GREEN KNIGHT.]
[CUT BACK TO ARTHUR and PATSY watching like a tennis match. Sound FX of the fight reaching a climax. Four almighty clangs. Then Silence.]
[CUT BACK to see the GREEN KNIGHT stretched out. The BLACK KNIGHT sheathes his sword.]
[ARTHUR looks at PATSY. Nods and they move forward.]
[CUT BACK TO the BLACK KNIGHT picking up the GREEN KNIGHT above his head and hurling him into the river. ARTHUR and PATSY approach him.]
ARTHUR: You fight with the strength of many men, Sir knight.
BLACK KNIGHT: Who dares to challenge the Black Knight?
ARTHUR: I do not challenge you.
[The BLACK KNIGHT stares impassively and says nothing.]
ARTHUR: I am Arthur, King of the Britons. [Hint of a pause as he waits for a reaction which doesn't come. ARTHUR is only slightly thrown.] ... I seek the bravest and the finest knights in all the world to join me in my court at Camelot ...
[The BLACK KNIGHT remains silent.]
ARTHUR: You have proved yourself worthy. ... Will you join me?
ARTHUR: A man of your strength and skill would be the chief of all my knights ...
BLACK KNIGHT: Never.
ARTHUR: You make me sad. But so be it. Come Patsy.
[As he moves, the BLACK KNIGHT bars the way.]
BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.
BLACK KNIGHT: None shall pass.
ARTHUR: I have no quarrel with you, brave Sir knight, but I must cross this bridge.
BLACK KNIGHT: Then you shall die.
ARTHUR: I command you, as King of the Britons to stand aside.
BLACK KNIGHT: I move for no man.
ARTHUR: So be it!
[ARTHUR draws his sword and approaches the BLACK KNIGHT. A furious fight now starts lasting about fifteen seconds at which point ARTHUR delivers a mighty blow which completely severs the BLACK KNIGHT's left arm at the shoulder. ARTHUR steps back triumphantly.]
ARTHUR: Now stand aside worthy adversary.
BLACK KNIGHT: (Glancing at his shoulder) 'Tis but a scratch.
ARTHUR: A scratch? Your arm's off.
BLACK KNIGHT: No, it isn't.
ARTHUR: (Pointing to the arm on ground) Well, what's that then?
BLACK KNIGHT: I've had worse.
ARTHUR: You're a liar.
BLACK KNIGHT: Come on you pansy!
[Another ten seconds furious fighting till ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHTS's other arm off, also at the shoulder. The arm plus sword, lies on the ground.]
ARTHUR: Victory is mine. (sinking to his knees) I thank thee O Lord that in thy ...
BLACK KNIGHT: Come on then.
[He kicks ARTHUR hard on the side of the helmet. ARTHUR gets up still holding his sword. The BLACK KNIGHT comes after him kicking.]
ARTHUR: You are indeed brave Sir knight, but the fight is mine.
BLACK KNIGHT: Had enough?
ARTHUR: You stupid bastard. You havn't got any arms left.
BLACK KNIGHT: Course I have.
BLACK KNIGHT: What! Just a flesh wound. (kicks ARTHUR)
ARTHUR: Stop that.
BLACK KNIGHT: (kicking him) Had enough ... ?
ARTHUR: I'll have your leg. (He is kicked again.) Right!
[The BLACK KNIGHT kicks him again and ARTHUR chops his leg off. The BLACK KNIGHT keeps his balance with difficulty.]
BLACK KNIGHT: I'll do you for that.
ARTHUR: You'll what ... ?
BLACK KNIGHT: Come Here.
ARTHUR: What are you going to do. bleed on me?
BLACK KNIGHT: I'm invincible!
ARTHUR: You're a looney.
BLACK KNIGHT: The Black Knight always triumphs. Have at you!
[ARTHUR takes his last leg off. The BLACK KNIGHT's body lands upright.]
BLACK KNIGHT: All right, we'll call it a draw.
ARTHUR: Come, Patsy.
[ARTHUR and PATSY start to cross the bridge.]
BLACK KNIGHT: Running away eh? You yellow bastard, Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off!
[5 EXTERIOR - DAY]
[A village. Sound of chanting of Latin canon, punctuated by short, sharp cracks. It comes nearer. We see it is a line of MONKS ala SEVENTH SEAL flagellation scene, chanting and banging themselves on the foreheads with wooden boards. They pass a group of villagers who are dragging a beautiful YOUNG WOMAN dressed as a witch through the streets. They drag her to a strange house/ruin standing on a hill outside the village. A strange-looking knight stands outside, SIR BEDEVERE.]
FIRST VILLAGER: We have found a witch. May we burn her?
ALL: A Witch! Burn her!
BEDEVERE: How do you know she is a witch?
ALL: She looks like one. Yes, she does.
BEDEVERE: Bring her forward.
[They bring her forward - a beautiful YOUNG GIRL (MISS ISLINGTON) dressed up as a witch.]
WITCH: I am not a witch. I am not a witch.
BEDEVERE: But you are dressed as one.
WITCH: They dressed me up like this.
ALL: We didn't, we didn't!
WITCH: This is not my nose, It is a false one.
[BEDEVERE takes her nose off.]
FIRST VILLAGER: ... Well, we did do the nose.
BEDEVERE: The nose?
FIRST VILLAGER: And the hat. But she is a witch.
ALL: A witch, a witch, burn her!
BEDEVERE: Did you dress her up like this?
FIRST VILLAGER: ... Um ... Yes ... no ... a bit ... yes... she has got a wart.
BEDEVERE: Why do you think she is a witch?
SECOND VILLAGER: She turned me into a newt.
BEDEVERE: A newt?
SECOND VILLAGER: (After looking at himself for some time) I got better.
ALL: Burn her anyway.
BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
[ARTHUR and PATSY ride up at this point and watch what follows with interest]
ALL: There are? Tell up. What are they, wise Sir Bedevere?
BEDEVERE: Tell me ... what do you do with witches?
ALL: Burn them.
BEDEVERE: And what do you burn, apart from witches?
FOURTH VILLAGER: ... Wood?
BEDEVERE: So why do witches burn?
SECOND VILLAGER: (pianissimo) ... Because they're made of wood...?
[PEASANTS stir uneasily then come round to this conclusion.]
ALL: I see. Yes, of course.
BEDEVERE: So how can we tell if she is made of wood?
FIRST VILLAGER: Make a bridge out of her.
BEDEVERE: Ah ... but can you not also make bridges out of stone?
ALL: Ah. Yes, of course ... um ... err ...
BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?
ALL: No, no, It floats. Throw her in the pond. Tie weights on her. To the pond.
BEDEVERE: Wait. Wait ... tell me, what also floats on water?
ALL: Bread? No, no, no. Apples .... gravy ... very small rocks ...
ARTHUR: A duck.
[They all turn and look at ARTHUR. BEDEVERE looks up very impressed.]
BEDEVERE: Exactly. So... logically ...
FIRST VILLAGER: (beginning to pick up the thread) If she ... weighs the same as a duck ... she's made of wood.
BEDEVERE: And therefore?
ALL: A witch! ... A duck! A duck! Fetch a duck.
FOURTH VILLAGER: Here is a duck, Sir Bedevere.
BEDEVERE: We shall use my largest scales.
[He leads them a few yards to a very strange contraption indeed, made of wood and rope and leather. They put the GIRL in one pan and the duck in another. Each pan is supported by a wooden stave. BEDEVERE checks each pan then ... ARTHUR looks on with interest.]
BEDEVERE: Remove the supports.
[Two PEASANTS knock them away with sledge hammers. The GIRL and the duck swing slightly but balance perfectly.]
ALL: A witch! A witch!
WITCH: It's a fair cop.
ALL: Burn her! Burn her! Let's make her into a ladder.
[The VILLAGERS drag the girl away, leaving ARTHUR and BEDEVERE regarding each other admiringly.]
BEDEVERE: Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?
ARTHUR: I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
BEDEVERE: My liege ... forgive me ...
[ARTHUR looks at PATSY with obvious satisfaction.]
ARTHUR: Good Sir knight, will you come with me to Camelot, and join our number at the Round Table?
BEDEVERE: My liege, I am honored.
[ARTHUR steps forward, drawing his sword, with a slight hint of difficulty]
ARTHUR: What is your name?
BEDEVERE: Bedevere, my Liege.
ARTHUR: Then I dub you ... Sir Bedevere ... Knight of the Round Table!
[6 VARIOUS MONTAGE - ANIMATION]
VOICE OVER: And so King Arthur gathered his knights together ... bringing from all the corners of the kingdom the strongest and bravest in the land ... To sit at The Round Table ...
Under this voice over we have a montage of shots of ARTHUR recruiting his Knights:
1. ARTHUR, PATSY, BEDEVERE and PAGE riding through hillside. MIX TO:
2. A castle. LONG SHOT of SIR GAWAIN standing outside and ARTHUR's group approaching and shaking hands perhaps.
3. MIX TO the group now plus SIR GAWAIN and PAGE (who is weighted down by an enormous quantity of luggage) riding down by a stream and approaching SIR HECTOR. ARTHUR dubs him.
4. MIX TO the group (now plus HECTOR and PAGE) approaching some group of buildings or whatever. In the distance SIR ROBIN is being taught the lute by one of his MUSICIANS. ARTHUR calls and SIR ROBIN immediately reacts and hands the lute to his MUSICIAN and comes to join ARTHUR and CO.
5. MIX TO SIR GALAHAD surrounded by chickens. He is wearing a carpenters apron over his immaculate armour and is finishing off a hen-house. We see the group approach and he throws off the apron and puts down the hen-house and goes to join them.
6. MIX TO the group riding along again.
7. MIX TO SIR LAUNCELOT handing a BABY to his WIFE (who has several other CHILDREN hanging about) and he strides off to join ARTHUR, leaving his castle, WIFE and CHILDREN. The castle (Eilean Donan) has washing hanging outside it. A real family castle. There are at least six kids.
8. MIX TO the complete group, i.e. ARTHUR and PATSY, BEDEVERE and PAGE, GAWAIN and PAGE, HECTOR and PAGE, GALAHAD and PAGE, SIR ROBIN and six MUSICIANS, LAUNCELOT and PAGE.
6 CLOSE-UP of a book on which is written: THE BOOK OF THE FILM
VOICE OVER: The wise Sir Bedevere was the first to join King Arthur's knights ... but other illustrious names were soon to follow ...
Hand turns page.
VOICE OVER: Sir Launcelot the Brave ...
Hand turns page.
VOICE OVER: Sir Galahad the Pure ...
Hand turns page.
VOICE OVER: And Sir Robin-the-not-quite-so-pure-as-Sir-Launcelot ...
Hand turns page.
VOICE OVER: ... Who had nearly fought the Dragon of Agnor ...
Hand turns page.
VOICE OVER: ... Who had nearly stood up to to the vicious Chicken of Bristol ...
Hand turns Page.
VOICE OVER: ... and who had personally wet himself at the Battle of Badon Hill ... and the aptly named ...
Hand turns page.
VOICE OVER: Sir Not-appearing-in-this-film.
Hand turns page.
VOICE OVER: Together they formed band whose names and deeds were to be retold throughout the centuries ... The Knights of the Round Table ...
A gorilla's hand snatches away the hand.
Music swells and fades and we MIX THROUGH TO:
[7 EXTERIOR - SUNSET]
[Fairly close HEAD-ON SHOT of the KNIGHTS riding along. BEDEVERE and ARTHUR at the front of the group deep in conversation.]
BEDEVERE: And that, my lord, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped.
ARTHUR: This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere. Explain again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.
BEDEVERE: OF course, my Liege ...
LAUNCELOT: (he points) Look, my liege!
[They all stop and look.]
ARTHUR: (with thankful reverence) Camelot!
[CUT TO shot of amazing castle in the distance. Illuminated in the rays of the setting sun.]
[CUT BACK TO ARTHUR and the group. They are all staring with fascination.]
GALAHAD: Camelot ...
LAUNCELOT: Camelot ...
GAWAIN: (at the back, to PAGE) It's only a model.
ARTHUR: (turning sharply) Sh! (to the rest) Knights! I bid you welcome to your new home! Let us ride ... to Camelot.
[8 INTERIOR - NIGHT]
[CUT TO interior of medieval hall. A large group of armoured KNIGHTS are engaged in a well choreographed song-and-dance routine of the very up-beat 'If they could see me now' type of fast bouncy number. The poorer verses are made clearer by CUTTING to a group of knights actually engaged in the described task while the line itself is sung. They sing:]
We're knights of the round table
We dance whene'er we're able
We do routines and chorus scenes
With footwork impeccable.
We dine well here in Camelot
We eat ham and jam and spam a lot.
We're knights of the Round Table
Our shows are formidable
But many times
We're given rhymes
That are quite unsingable
We're opera mad in Camelot
We sing from the diaphragm a lot.
[Booming basses. A routine where two XYLOPHONISTS play parts of KNIGHTS' armour producing a pleasing effect.]
In war we're tough and able.
Between our quests
We sequin vests
And impersonate Clark Gable
It's a busy life in Camelot.
SINGLE MAN: I have to push the pram a lot.
[CUT BACK TO ARTHUR and BEDEVERE and COMPANY as we had left them.]
ARTHUR: No, on second thought, let's not go to Camelot.
ARTHUR: It is a silly place.
[They set off again almost immediately they are suffused in ethereal radiance and strange heavenly choir music. The PAGES, horselike, take fright for a moment, they whinny and rattle their coconuts. ARTHUR and the KNIGHTS fall on their knees. A holy voice booms out.]
GOD: Arthur! Arthur ... King of the Britons ...
[They all prostrate themselves even further]
GOD: Oh, don't grovel ... do get up! If there's one thing I can't stand, it's people grovelling!!
[ARTHUR and COMPANY rise.]
ARTHUR: Sorry ...
GOD: And don't apologize. Every time I try to talk to someone it's sorry this and forgive me that and I'm not worthy and ... What are you doing now?
ARTHUR: I'm averting my eyes, Lord.
GOD: Well, don't. I really don't know where all this got started. It's like those miserable psalms. they're so depressing. Now knock it of
ARTHUR: Yes, Lord.
GOD: Right. Arthur, King of the Britons, your Knights of the Round Table shall have a task to make them an example in these dark times ...
ARTHUR: Good idea, O Lord!
GOD: Course it's a good idea. (Suddenly another light glows beside GOD or possibly within the light which is GOD a shape slowly starts to form.) Behold ... Arthur ... this is the Holy Grail ... the Sacred Cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper ...
[The form in the bright light is just discernible as an iridescent chalice ... the KNIGHTS gasp.]
GOD: Look well, Arthur ... for it is your sacred task to seek this Grail.
[It begins to fade. Music crescendo as both lights fade.]
GOD: That is your purpose Arthur ... the Quest for the Holy Grail ...
[It is gone. All the KNIGHTS are left gasping in awe and wonderment. They all turn and look at ARTHUR.]
LAUNCELOT: A Blessing. A blessing from the lord.
BEDEVERE: Praise be to God!
[An awed pause, then ARTHUR rallies them.]
ARTHUR: We have a task, we must waste no time! To Camelot!
GALAHAD: God be praised!
[Stirring music crescendo. They ride off.]
[CUT TO TITLES SEQUENCE Animation: 'The Quest For The Holy Grail' After titles CUT TO:]
[9 EXTERIOR - CASTLE - DAY]
[MIX THROUGH one or two shots of them on their way again, until they approach a terrific castle (a little one would do too). They advance quite close to the castle and draw themselves into a line. At a signal from ARTHUR the two PAGES step forward and give a brief fanfare.]
[A MAN appears on the battlements. ARTHUR addresses him.]
MAN: 'Allo. Whoo is eet?
ARTHUR: I am King Arthur and these are the Knights of the Round Table. Whose castle is this?
MAN: This is the castle of of my master, Guy de Loimbard.
ARTHUR: Please go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest, and if he will give us food and shelter for this night he can join us in our quest for the Holy Grail.
MAN: Well, I'll ask him, but I don't think he'll be very keen. He's already got one, you see?
GALAHAD: He says they've already got one!
[They are stunned.]
ARTHUR: Are you sure he's got one?
MAN: Oh yes. It's very nice
[CUT TO BATTLEMENTS. THE TAUNTER turns to some others.]
MAN: I told him we already got one.
[They all giggle.]
ARTHUR: Well ... can we come up and have a look?
MAN: Of course not! You are English pigs.
ARTHUR: Well, what are you then?
MAN: I'm French. Why do think I have this outrageous accent, you silly king.
GALAHAD: What are you doing in England?
MAN: Mind your own business.
ARTHUR: If you will not show us the Grail we shall storm your castle.
[Murmurs of assent.]
MAN: You don't frighten us, English pig-dog! Go and boil your bottoms, son of a silly person. I blow my nose on you, so-called Arthur-king, you and your silly English K...kaniggets.
[He puts hands to his ears and blows a raspberry.]
GALAHAD: What a strange person.
ARTHUR: Now look here, my good man!
MAN: I don't want to talk to you, no more, you empty-headed animal, food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. You mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
GALAHAD: Is there someone else up there we could talk to?
MAN: No. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.
ARTHUR: Now this is your last chance. I've been more than reasonab...
MAN: Fetchez la vache!
MAN: Fetchez la vache!
[CUT BACK TO battlements. A cow is led out of a stall.]
[CUT BACK TO ARTHUR.]
ARTHUR: Now that is my final offer. If you are not prepared to agree to my demands I shall be forced to take ... Oh Christ!
[A cow comes flying over the battlements, lowing aggressively. The cow lands on GALAHAD'S PAGE, squashing him completely.]
ROBIN: What a cruel thing to do.
BEDEVERE: (Choking back tears) It hadn't even been milked.
ARTHUR: Right! Knights! Forward!
[ARTHUR leads a charge toward the castle. Various shots of them battling on, despite being hit by a variety of farm animals.]
ARTHUR: (as the MAN next to him is squashed by a sheep) Knights! Run away!
[Midst echoing shouts of 'run away' the KNIGHTS retreat to cover with the odd cow or goose hitting them still. The KNIGHTS crouch down under cover.]
LAUNCELOT: The sods! I'll tear them apart.
ARTHUR: (restraining LAUNCELOT from going out and having a go) No!
BEDEVERE: I have a plan sir.
[CUT BACK TO battlements of castle. FRENCH SENTRIES suspiciously peering towards the English lines. Wind whistles.]
[Shot of the empty scrubland or undergrowth or woodland around the castle. Emptiness. Wind. More shots of the FRENCH SENTRIES peering into the dusk. As night falls. MIX THROUGH TO night On the battlements a brazier burns or torches on the wall as the SENTRIES peer into the dark. Shots of the woodland with fires burning where the English lines are.]
[During all this the sounds of extensive carpentry have possibly been herd, followed by silence, followed by renewed outbursts or activity.]
[CLOSE-UP FRENCH looking very nervous. Dawn breaking. Shot of woodland. Nothing. Wind. Dawn still breaking. Shots of the FRENCH. They suddenly hear something. A faintly detectable squeaking which is getting louder.]
[CUT TO WIDE SHOT of castle and woodland. Squeaking getting louder. Shot of the FRENCH TAUNTER pointing. WIDE SHOT again. The squeaking gets louder an enormous twenty-foot-high wooden rabbit is wheeled out of the undergrowth into the open space in front of the castle. The ENGLISH scuttle back into the undergrowth. The rabbit has a large red bow tied round it and a rather crudely written label, which reads 'Pour votres amis Francais'. The CHIEF TAUNTER looks at it, narrowing his eyes. Then he turns and leaves battlements.]
[CUT TO ARTHUR and COMPANY watching from the bushes. The main gate of the castle opens a little and the CHIEF TAUNTER's head sticks out, then another Froggie head, then another. They mutter to each other in French, look rather pleased, then rush out and start to pull the giant rabbit in.]
[CUT BACK TO ARTHUR and COMPANY behind some bushes watching.]
ARTHUR: Now what happens?
BEDEVERE: Well now, Launcelot, Galahad, and I wait until nightfall and then leap out of the rabbit and take the French by surprise, not only by surprise but totally unarmed!
ARTHUR: Who ... Who breaks out?
BEDEVERE: Er ... We ... Launcelot, Galahad, and I ... Er ... leap out of the rabbit and ...
[LAUNCELOT covers his eyes.]
BEDEVERE: Look, if we were to build a large wooden badger...
[ARTHUR cuffs him. ARTHUR looks at the battlements. There is a loud twang. Look of horror. The rabbit comes sailing over the battlements.]
ARTHUR: Run away! (More shouts) Run away!
SIR GAWAIN: (to his PAGE as they run away) It's only a model.
[They continue to retreat. The rabbit lands on GAWAIN'S PAGE (who is already weighed down by enormous quantity of luggage).]
[10 EXTERIOR - CASTLE WALLS - DAY]
[CUT TO a MAN in modern dress standing outside a castle. He speaks straight to CAMERA in a documentary kind of way.]
[SUPERIMPOSE CAPTION: A Very Famous Historian.]
HISTORIAN'S SPEECH: Defeat at the castle seems to have utterly disheartened King Arthur ... The ferocity of the French taunting took him completely by surprise and Arthur became convinced that a new strategy was required if the quest for the Holy Grail were to be brought to a successful conclusion. Arthur, having consulted his closest knights, decided that they should separate, and search for the Grail individually. Now, this is what they did. No sooner...
[A KNIGHT rides into shot and hacks him to the ground. He rides off.]
[We stay for a moment on the glade. A MIDDLE-AGED LADY in a C. & A. twin-set emerges from the trees and looks in horror at the body of her HUSBAND.]
MRS HISTORIAN: FRANK!
CUT TO animated frame, with the words 'The Tale of Sir Robin' on it. Pleasant pastoral music. MIX THROUGH TO:
VOICE: 'The Tale Of Sir Robin'
[11 EXTERIOR - GLADE - DAY]
[A KNIGHT is trotting along through a wooden sun-dapled glade, followed by his trusty PAGE banging the usual half coconuts. As we see them approach we hear the beautiful lilting sound of medieval music, and see that the KNIGHT is followed by a small retinue of MUSICIANS in thirteenth-century courtly costume, one sings, and plays the tambourine, one bangs at a tabor (A small drum O.E.D) and one plays the pipes.]
[The KNIGHT looks very proud and firm as we hear the first part of the song, but the combination of the lyrics and the large signs they pass, start to have their effect ...]
Bravely bold Sir Robin, rode forth from Camelot,
He was not afraid to die, Oh Brave Sir Robin,
He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways
Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin.
He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp
Or to have his eyes gouged out and his elbows broken,
To have his kneecaps split and his body burned away
And his limbs all hacked and mangled, brave Sir Robin.
His head smashed in, and his heart cut out,
And his liver removed, and his bowels unplugged,
And his nostrils raped, and his bottom burned off,
And his penis split ... and his ...
ROBIN: Er, That's ... That's enough music for a while, lads. It looks as though like there's dirty work afoot.
SINGERS: Brave, Sir Rob ...
ROBIN: Shut up.
[They have ridden past the following signs, all in triplicate:]
+-------------------------------------------+ | CAMELOT 43 CERTAIN DEATH I | | CAMELOT 43 CERTAIN DEATH I | | CAMELOT 43 CERTAIN DEATH I | +-------------------------------------------+ +------------------------------------------------+ | BEWARE GO BACK DEAD PEOPLE ONLY | | BEWARE GO BACK DEAD PEOPLE ONLY | | BEWARE GO BACK DEAD PEOPLE ONLY | +------------------------------------------------+
[12 EXTERIOR - GLADE - DAY]
[They now pass three KNIGHTS impaled to a tree. With their feet off the ground, with one lance through the lot of them, they are skewered up like a barbecue.]
[Then they pass three KNIGHTS sitting on the ground with one enormous axe through their skulls. They look timorous.]
[Then a huge tree is absolutely packed with MAIDENS tied to it. They all look fed up. SIR ROBIN calls out cheerfully as he passes.]
ONE LADY: Bye.
[SIR ROBIN rides on a little way with the music building up enormous and terrifying tension, until suddenly there standing before him is an enormous THREE-HEADED KNIGHT.]
THREE HEADS: Halt! Who art thou?
SINGERS: He is brave Sir Robin, brave Sir Robin, who ...
ROBIN: (to SINGERS) Shut up. Oh, nobody really. just passing through.
THREE HEADS: What do you want?
SINGERS: To fight and ...
ROBIN: Shut up. Nothing really. just to pass through, good Sir knight.
THREE HEADS: I'm afraid not. This is my bit of the forest. Find your own bit.
ROBIN: I am a Knight of King Arthur's Round Table. I seek the Holy Grail - Stand aside and let me pass.
THREE HEADS: You are a Knight of the Round Table?
ROBIN: I am.
[From now on the THREE HEADS speak individually.]
SECOND HEAD: Shit.
FIRST HEAD: In that case I shall have to kill you.
SECOND HEAD: Shall I?
THIRD HEAD: Oh, I don't think so.
SECOND HEAD: I'm not sure.
MIDDLE HEAD: (to FIRST) What do I think?
LEFT HEAD: I think kill him.
SECOND HEAD: I'm still not sure.
THIRD HEAD: All right. How many of me think I should kill him?
FIRST HEAD: I do.
THIRD HEAD: One.
SECOND HEAD: That's not a quorum.
FIRST HEAD: It is if I'm the Chairman.
THIRD HEAD: Oo, it's not.
SECOND HEAD: I'm the Chairman this week.
FIRST HEAD: You're not.
SECOND HEAD: Look, it'll make it much simpler if I vote with me.
THIRD HEAD: To kill him.
SECOND HEAD: Yeah.
THIRD HEAD: (tuts) Oh, damn.
FIRST HEAD: (to SIR ROBIN) Knight, I have decided to kill you.
THIRD HEAD: With one absenting.
FIRST HEAD: Knight, I have decided to kill you with one absenting.
THIRD HEAD: (to SIR ROBIN) Sorry about this but I have to be fair.
ROBIN: Oh, that's all right. So you are going to kill me with your big axe.
FIRST HEAD: Er no, with my sword.
SECOND HEAD: Dagger.
THIRD HEAD: Mace is quicker.
FIRST HEAD: No, no, the sword, it's easier.
THIRD HEAD: He said axe.
ROBIN: Look, hurry up six eyes, or I shall cut your head off.
THIRD HEAD: (to SIR ROBIN, referring to FIRST HEAD) For God's sake, CUT that one off, and do us all a favour.
FIRST HEAD: What do you mean?
THIRD HEAD: Yapping on all the time.
SECOND HEAD: You're lucky, you're not next to him.
THIRD HEAD: What do you mean?
SECOND HEAD: You snore.
THIRD HEAD: Oo, lies. Anyway, you've got bad breath.
SECOND HEAD: (aspirating heavily) I haven't.
[Both THIRD and FIRST HEADS turn away slightly, making faces.]
SECOND HEAD: It's not my fault. It's what you both eat.
FIRST HEAD: Look, stop this bitching. We've got a knight to kill.
SECOND HEAD: He's buggered off.
THIRD HEAD: So he has. He's scarpered.
FIRST HEAD: That's all your fault.
THIRD HEAD: No, it's not.
FIRST HEAD: (swipes at himself) Take that.
SECOND HEAD: Ow.
FIRST HEAD: I'm sorry.
THIRD HEAD: 'Ere, stop it. I'll teach you.
[The BODY starts laying into itself with sword and mace, while the HEADS argue and shout with pain. We PAN gently across to the MAIDENS on their tree. They are still very fed up.]
MAIDEN: I suppose we're lucky he's only got three heads.
LOVELY: Chance would be a fine thing.
THIRD HEAD: Oh! let's be nice to him.
FIRST HEAD: Oh shut up.
ROBIN: Perhaps I could ...
FIRST HEAD: Oh! quick! get the sword out I want to cut his head off.
THIRD HEAD: Oh, cut your own head off.
SECOND HEAD: Yes - do us all a favour.
FIRST HEAD: What?
THIRD HEAD: Yapping on all the time.
SECOND HEAD: You're lucky, you're not next to him.
THIRD HEAD: What do you mean?
SECOND HEAD: You snore.
THIRD HEAD: Ooh, lies! anyway you've got bad breath.
SECOND HEAD: Well only because you don't brush my teeth ...
THIRD HEAD: Oh! stop bickering and let's go and have tea and biscuits.
FIRST HEAD: All right! All right! We'll kill him first and then have tea and biscuits.
SECOND HEAD: Yes.
THIRD HEAD: Oh! not biscuits ...
FIRST HEAD: All right! All right! not biscuits - but lets kill him anyway ...
[WIDE-SHOT THE 3-HEADED KNIGHT is alone.]
SECOND HEAD: He's buggered off!
THIRD HEAD: So he has! He's scarpered.
[13 EXTERIOR - GLADE - DAY]
[Quick sequence of SIR ROBIN. The music is jolly and bright, as if triumphant. ROBIN is not at all happy with the lyrics.]
SINGERS: Brave Sir Robin ran away.
ROBIN: I didn't.
SINGERS: Bravely ran away, away.
ROBIN: No, no, no.
When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled
Yes, Brave Sir Robin turned about
And gallantly he chickened out
Bravely taking to his feet
He beat a very brave retreat
Bravest of the brave Sir Robin
Petrified of being dead
Soiled his pants then brave Sir Robin
Turned away and fled.
[They disappear into distance.]
[ANIMATION: 'The Tale Of Sir Galahad']
[14 EXTERIOR - STORM - FOREST - DUSK]
[As the storm rages we pick up GALAHAD forcing his way through brambles and over slippery rocks. Progress is hard. He pauses and at this moment we hear the howling of wolves. GALAHAD turns, then hurries onward even more urgently. Another louder, closer howl is heard and GALAHAD stumbles and falls heavily. Though obviously injured he bravely struggles forward a little and regains his feet reacting with pain. More louder, closer howling. He grips his sword valiantly and as he glances around a flash of lightning reveals the silhouette of a huge terrifying castle, perhaps looking rather derelict. He makes up his mind in an instant and stumbles manfully toward it. More louder howling. He reaches the forbidding and enormous doors of the castle and beats on the doors with the handle of his sword, looking over his shoulder the while. Pause. He beats again, shouting:]
GALAHAD: Open. Open the doors. In the name of King Arthur. Open the doors. I am Sir Galahad, a knight of the Round Table.
[Some suitable noises are heard inside.]
GALAHAD: I am on a quest for the Holy Grail. I seek shelter.
[Some rattling chainy noises come from inside with huge bolts being drawn. The wolves' howling is very close. As the door creaks open GALAHAD steps quickly inside.]
Forward to Part Two: Scene 15 to Scene 28
Forward to Part Three: Scene 29 to Scene 41