This month-long look at movie and comics featuring sword-wielding types such as King Arthur and his cronies would not be complete without a shoutout to the greatest Camelot movie ever made, and that's the funniest flick in the history of flicks -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This is the absolute ideal marriage of material and talent, a cretinous bunch of over-educated British louts having a smack at the mightiest of British legends. The Pythons were excellent at pulling the pompous wool out of over-stuffed aspects of society and the hyper-serious considerations concerning the King Arthur legends were ripe for the predations of the Python clan.
One thing that always bugs me a little when I squander my time watching a movie or reading a book or comic about kings and queens and knights and such is the easy acceptance on the part of all concerned of the absolute correctness of the situation at hand. A king is manifestly right because he is the son of the king before him and the nobility that maintain this hierarchy are showcased without qualm.
Of course as modern people we know that such a social structure is inherently unfair to the vast majority of mankind and that in our more enlightened times we appear, on the surface at least, to desire structures which are fundamentally fairer and recognize the sameness of people. "Strong Men" come and eventually they go, but most see that dictatorship is not a long term solution to even the most heinous of social breakdowns. It's a patch at best and then of dubious value. For someone to ascend to the throne and ascribe that ascension to the handiwork of a god is outrageous to a truly modern mind. (Not that it doesn't stop some nutter from trying it on, as we've recently learned to our chagrin in my own United States.)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is infused throughout with a good and proper disdain for royalty and that wisdom informs the smartest gags and bits directly. The whimsical debate between Arthur and the "peasant" Dennis at the beginning always gets a laugh from me and sets up the absurdity of much of the rest of the movie. Later we "nobles" doing all manner of things which people are not supposed to do and assuming it right simply because they have a particular bloodline. But likewise rank stupidity of the common man is set afire time and again as the people are show to possess little true critical thinking power in a universe riddled with superstition.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is an excellent movie for our times because it's about our times and not the mythic kingdom of Camelot, but rather the hectic world of modern London and beyond.