Robin Hood Men in Tights and Monty Python's A Holy Grail
by Natascha Koeppen
"Robin Hood Men in Tights" by Mel Brooks is a parody to the classic Robin Hood. It uses the basic story of Robin Hood to make fun of the medieval story of Robin Hood. It already does this in the begin of the film by making fun of the Disney "Robin Hood" with the various songs that they have in the movie. Especially the opening and ending in which the film makes fun of the rooster on Robin Hood. The goal is also achieved in the movie with the line “Unlike other Robin Hoods, I speak with an English accent”.
The movie also makes fun of the 90s culture. It uses the black character as a satirical choice of all black characters in film at that point. He carries the name of Achoo further the satire of the typical black character. We first meet this character has he is being beaten up all the while screaming if this was on film satirizing the Rodney King incident. In all this character is used as a satire of the black portrayed television man.
The main character himself is a satire to the typical hero. He also satirizes the English in some ways by the long-winded speeches he holds during the course of the movie.
The film draws uses parody of different films to achieve its humor. The mob of the godfather and Clint Eastwood as the assassin are used as such. The screaming kid is a reference to "Home Alone". "White Men Can’t Jump" and "Blazing Saddles" are directly mentioned both by Achoo. And even Scarlet O’Hara is not left out in the film. And of course "Prince of Thieves" is used since it came out just a little earlier
English speech, Shakespeare and Mark Twain also have a place in the movie. Lines from Shakespeare great the arrival of the hero in England, shown as a large Hollywood sign, “My kingdom for a horse”.
"Monty Python's Holy Grail" is a parody of the tale of King Arthur. The satire here is created through the Pythons making fun and satirizing their own plots, story and people. They also make fun of the classic believe of the romantic old story and show that the life as a peasant during those times was not as pretty.
The story itself does not completely draw on all the elements of the classic King Arthur story. Its plot revolves around the quest for the Holy Grail, which they never get because the police pick them in the end. The pythons rely on humor to tell the story with some satire thrown into it.
The character of Sir Bedeveur is that of the scientist and wise knight. Yet his character is satirized in that he forgets critical aspects of the problem. As seen when he tries to recreate the Trojan horse and forgets that there are people that have to be in it. Lancelot's character is satirized in that he gets carried away and the mere thought of a fight. He even excuses himself to the Swamp King with “sorry I get carried away”. The satire in Gallhands character is that he isn’t very pure at all. In the castle of Anthrax he almost gives in to the ladies and is going to do as they asked.
What both movies have in common is their setting; the medieval era and the legend they were built on. Otherwise it would seem that they differ more, other than subject matters, which appear in both of them.
The main difference that the two films have is the English satire versus American satire. The other thing is that "Robin Hood Men in Tights" came after "Monty Python's Holy Grail". Thus "Men in Tights'" satire and comedy were influenced by "Holy Grail". "Men in Tights" also doesn’t make fun of their own characters, plot and setting as "Holy Grail" does, but in "Men in Tights" the Hollywood hero is still maintained, whereas in "Holy Grail" Arthur is not portrayed as the smartest wisest knight in all of England.
Religion is satirized in both movies, Rabbi Tuckman and the abbot in Men in Tights and the clergy in Holy Grail. Though the main difference is that in Holy Grail they make fun of the old blind, only with pain can one have forgiveness, belief in faith. On the other hand, "Men in Tights" uses mostly parody into the normal heroic story and makes fun of it in that way. The Pythons also use the holy hand grenade of Antioch to satirize the church. Though the patriot arrow and the holy hand grenade show the same kind of idea one is poking fun at the military and war while the other is making fun of religion not only in the hand grenade but also in it’s instructions that seem to be filled with some useless information.
The way the characters are portrayed also is different. "Men in Tights" uses the clichés of the era. While Holy Grail choose to over exaggerate its characters with random insanity. It chooses once again that "Men in Tights" very much stayed with in the confines of the hero-villain structure. As shown when the sheriff of Rottingham runs off with Maid Marian which is a parody to the old cartoons where the hero always has to save the girl from the train. "Holy Grail" seems not to draw on the clichés of the era it was made in. It rather makes fun of old medieval England and seems to point out that much of this is still engraved in English life.
Thus it is my belief that "Holy Grail" achieves satirical elements better than "Men in Tights" does. This is because "Holy Grail" seems to still be funny even when watched some twenty years after it first went into movies.