Labyrinth

  • Directors: Jim Henson
  • Producers: George Lucas
  • Writers: Dennis Lee, Jim Henson, Terry Jones
  • Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Musical
  • Actors: Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Toby Froud

Protagonist Sarah Williams (Connelly) is a 15-year-old who loves reading and acting out fairy tales, whose parents are divorced and whose mother is a moderately famous actress. The movie opens with a scene of Sarah rehearsing lines from her book Labyrinth in a park. While trying to remember the final line of a speech in the book, she loses track of time, forgetting that she must babysit her infant half-brother, Toby. Upon belatedly remembering this, she runs home to find her stepmother Irene waiting angrily for her. They quarrel, after which Irene leaves with Sarah’s father on a date, while Sarah remains behind to babysit Toby. Here, the already furious Sarah realises that her treasured teddy bear, Lancelot, is missing from her room. Storming into Toby’s room, she finds Lancelot and reprimands Toby, whereupon he begins to cry. Sarah, possibly to tease him further in revenge, begins rehearsing more lines from Labyrinth, telling an account of a maiden granted special powers by the King of Goblins. According to the story, the girl (whom Sarah apparently uses to represent herself) could no longer stand her life and wishes for goblins to take away her screaming baby brother. As she ends the story and turns off the light, she remarks, “I wish the goblins would come and take you away…right now”, whereupon Toby suddenly stops crying. Worried, Sarah enters his room, to find that Toby has vanished.

In Toby’s room, she gives him Lancelot, then returns to her room. As Sarah clears her dressing table, she seems confused about whether she has undergone the turning point in her life between childhood and adulthood. Hoggle appears, along with Ludo and Sir Didymus, as images in the mirror. They seem to be bidding her goodbye as she leaves behind the fantasies of childhood, but remind her that they will still be available “should you need us”. Sarah insists she presently needs them, whereupon they appear in her bedroom. The film closes as the Labyrinth’s creatures celebrate in her room. Outside, the owl Jareth watches the party and then flies away into the night.

Life of Brian

  • Directors: Terry Jones
  • Producers: John Goldstone
  • Writers: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
  • Genres: Comedy
  • Actors: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

Brian Cohen is born in a stable a few doors from the one in which Jesus is born, a fact which initially confuses the three wise men who come to praise the future King of the Jews. They manage to put up with Brian’s boorish mother Mandy until they realise their mistake. Brian grows up an idealistic young man who resents the continuing Roman occupation of Judea, even after learning his father was a Roman Centurion – Naughtius Maximus – who raped Brian’s mother (“You mean; you were raped?”, “Well, at first, yes”). While attending Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he becomes infatuated with an attractive young female rebel, Judith. His desire for her and hatred for the Romans lead him to join the People’s Front of Judea (PFJ), one of many factious and bickering separatist movements who spend more time fighting each other than the Romans (see Political satire below). The group’s cynical leader Reg gives Brian his first assignment: He must scrawl some graffiti on the wall of the governor’s palace. Just as he finishes doing this, he is confronted by a passing centurion who, in disgust at Brian’s faulty Latin grammar (“Romanes eunt domus”, or “the people called ‘Romanes’ they go the house”), forces him to write the grammatically correct message (“Romani ite domum” or “Romans, go home”) 100 times. By dawn, the walls of the fortress are covered in text. When the Roman guards change shift at daybreak, the new guards try to arrest Brian, but he manages to slip away with the help of Judith.

Instead, Pilate is just fed various names intended to highlight his speech impediment (Very well. I shall wewease Wodewick,. Biggus Dickus then attempts to take control of the situation by reading out the prisoner list, but the combination of his severe lisp and every prisoner having a name starting with S (e.g. Samson the Sadducee Strangler) causes the assembled hordes collapse to the floor in laughter at the spectacle. Pilate eventually orders Brian’s release, but (in a moment parodying the climax of the film Spartacus), various crucified people all claim to be “Brian of Nazareth” – one man stating “I’m Brian and so’s my wife” – and the wrong man is released. Various other opportunities for a reprieve for Brian are denied as one by one his “allies” (including Judith) step forward to explain why they are leaving the “noble freedom fighter” hanging in the hot sun. Condemned to a long and painful death, Brian’s spirits are lifted by his fellow sufferers, who break out into song with “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

  • Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
  • Producers: Mark Forstater, Michael White
  • Writers: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
  • Genres: Adventure, Comedy
  • Actors: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

King Arthur (Chapman), along with his faithful servant Patsy (Gilliam), is recruiting his Knights of the Round Table throughout England. He is frustrated at every turn by such obstacles as anarcho-syndicalist peasants, a Black Knight who refuses to give up in a fight despite losing both his arms and legs, and guards who are more concerned with the flight patterns of swallows than their lord and master. Finally he meets up with Sir Bedevere the Wise (Jones), Sir Lancelot the Brave (Cleese), Sir Galahad the Pure (also called “the Chaste”) (Palin), Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot, who nearly stood up to the fierce dragon of Angnor, almost stood to the vicious chicken of Bristol, and personally wet himself at the Battle for Badon Hill (Idle), “and the aptly-named Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Film” (a picture of Palin’s infant son). They declare themselves the Knights of the Round Table. When “riding” to Camelot (by strutting and banging two coconut halves together), they are given a quest by God (represented by an animated photograph of legendary cricket figure W. G. Grace) to find the Holy Grail.

They encounter a castle with a Frenchman who randomly taunts them with names like ‘Daffy English knnnnnniggits’ and odd insults such as, “I fart in your general direction!” and “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”, together with some mangled Franglais, notably “Fetchez la vache!” (Fetch the cow). The Knights then retreat, weathering a barrage of livestock and executing a poorly thought-out plan to sneak into the castle while concealed within a crudely built giant wooden rabbit (a Trojan Rabbit) which the French throw back at the knights. Arthur decides that he and his knights should search for the Grail individually. After they split up, Sir Robin travels through the dark Forest of Ewing with his favourite minstrels, and encounters a Three-Headed Giant, Galahad follows a Grail-shaped light to the perils of Castle Anthrax (the girls of which are very interested in being spanked and having oral sex with him), Sir Lancelot massacres a wedding at Swamp Castle, and Arthur and Bedevere encounter the dreaded Knights who say Ni, who demand a shrubbery as tribute. They each overcome or avoid their individual perils in a variety of ways, then reunite to face a bleak and terrible winter, the happenings of which are told in the form of a Gilliam animation. Next they venture further to a pyromaniacal enchanter named Tim, who leads them to a cave guarded by a killer rabbit.

One of the running gags in the film is the frequent breaking of the fourth wall, the separation between the action on screen and the production offscreen is blurred; for example, the aforementioned “old man from scene 24” and the death of the animator. Others include: