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Monty Python(TV) (2009)
The surviving members of Monty Python are reuniting for another major documentary series, telling their story.
For more about Monty Python and the Monty Python Blu-ray release, see Monty Python Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on October 26, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Eric Idle, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Danny Scheinmann
Directors: Bill Jones (X), Alan G. Parker, Ben Timlett
» See full cast & crew
Monty Python Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, October 26, 2009
Eagle Rock Film Productions Limited in association with The Independent Film Channel bring to Blu-ray the terrific documentary "Monty Python: Almost the Truth - The Lawyers Cut" (2009). Its six episodes - "The not so interesting beginning", "The much funnier second episode", "And now, the sordid personal bits", "The ultimate Holy Grail episode", "Lust for glory!" and "Finally, the last episode (ever) (for now...)" - are placed on two separate discs. Disc 2 also contains "Extended Interviews with the Pythons", "Outtakes From The Cutting Room Floor", "Terry Gilliam Picture Gallery", etc. Subtitled in English, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish (including the supplemental features). Region-Free.
Monty Python: Almost the Truth is a fascinating documentary broken into six episodes - "The not so interesting beginning", "The much funnier second episode", "And now, the sordid personal bits", "The ultimate Holy Grail episode", "Lust for glory!" and "Finally, the last episode (ever) (for now...)" - each running at approximately 60 minutes. During each of the episodes, members of the famous British comedy group recall their collective triumphs, failures and endless disputes - some much publicized, some rather unknown - they had with different political and religious organizations during the years.
The tone of Monty Python: Almost the Truth is casual. The overwhelming majority of the information that is being shared is quite hilarious; colorful and explicit descriptions (coming primarily from Eric Idle) are practically everywhere. There are also a variety of terrific scenes from many of Monty Python's early shows adding a very familiar flavor to the documentary.
Contrary to what many believe, the type of comedy Monty Python introduced was not something audiences embraced overnight. For example, in "The much funnier second episode", Eric Idle explains how the troupe's first shows slowly evolved from being "weird" and "strange" to "funny", and how many simply did not get them.
In America, Monty Python had an even tougher time. In "The ultimate Holy Grail episode", for example, Nancy Lewis, Python U.S. manager, explains why at the time no one in the industry was willing to invest into converting their early shows from PAL to NTSC, thus preventing U.S. audiences from familiarizing themselves with the work of the comedians. It wasn't until Victor Lowndes, a UK-based Playboy executive, got involved that Monty Python finally had the break they needed.
Each of the feature films the Pythons did - And Now For Something Completely Different (1971), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983), as well as the concert film Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) - is extensively covered. Throughout the documentary, there is an enormous amount of behind the scenes footage and on-set cast and crew interviews highlighting the technical difficulties that had to be overcome in order for these films to be completed.
Monty Python: Almost the Truth also contains recollections and comments from a number of actors, musicians and celebrities - Tim Roth, Tom Arnold, Phil Jupitus, Steve Coogan, Russell Brand, Jimmy Fallon, Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, etc - whose lives and careers were greatly affected by the Pythons. In one way or another, they also recognize how incredibly influential the Pythons were in changing people's perceptions not only about comedy, television and film, but also class, politics and religion.
Finally, Monty Python: Almost the Truth is also packed with colorful stories about all sorts of different extracurricular activities the Pythons were involved with during the years. Some have been made public already, but there are a few very entertaining revelations which hardcore Python fans will undoubtedly be delighted to learn about.
Monty Python Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (original content), encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080i transfer, Monty Python: Almost the Truth arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment.
The original content (interviews) looks very strong. Detail is excellent, clarity good, and contrast pleasing. As expected, the quality of the archival footage varies - some of the footage reveals plenty of damage, some of it does not. Additionally, a lot of the important B&W stills the producers of Monty Python: Almost the Truth have included look excellent. Furthermore, quite a few of the numerous film clips that are included in this documentary actually look rather impressive. Lastly, "motion-judder" is not an issue of concern with this release. All in all, I personally have absolutely no reservations with the presentation whatsoever. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Monty Python Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 2.0 and English Dolby Digital 5.1. I opted for the English LPCM 2.0 track and later on did a few random comparisons with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track for the purpose of this review.
Once again, I have absolutely no reservations with the English LPCM 2.0 track whatsoever. The dialog is crisp and notably easy to follow. During the interviews, I did not detect any disturbing issues to report in this review. As far as the archival footage is concerned, obviously there are some limitations that you would notice. None of them, however, would detract heavily from your viewing experience.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is just as effective. The dialog is crisp and very easy to follow, and there are a few sequences where the rear channels actually come alive. Still, I prefer the English LPCM 2.0 track.
For the record, Eagle Rock Entertainment have provided optional English, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish subtitles for the main feature.
Monty Python Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features arrive with optional English, Danish, German, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish subtitles.
The Sketches - a collection of seven well known sketches - "Dead Parrot", "Spanish Inquisition", "The Fish Slapping Dance", "Ministry of Silly Walks", "Lumberjack Song", "The Cheese Shop", and "SPAM". (1080i/60).
Extended interviews - a collection of five extended interviews with John Cleese (18 min), Eric Idle (11 min), Terry Jones (7 min), Terry Gilliam (14 min), and Michael Palin (18 min). The additional information the interviews contain pertains to the actors' backgrounds. (1080i/60).
Outtakes - a collection of eleven outtakes: "The Seventh Python" (5 min), "The Hendon Sketch" (3 min), "The Origins of the Cheese Shop" (3 min), "Steve Coogan - The Undertaker" (2 min), "Python on Python" (9 min), "The Spam Museum" (4 min), "Python in Texas" (2 min), "Tomorrow's World's The Broken Bottle" (6 min), "Bruce Dickinson Registers a Complaint" (6 min), "Elvis was a Python Fan" (8 min), "The Origins of Fawlty Towers" (7 min). (1080i/60)
Terry Gilliam Picture Gallery - (1080i/60).
Monty Python Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I enjoyed every single minute of this terrific documentary! It is rather long but incredibly well produced and, what matters the most, very informative. Frankly, I cannot think of a single reason why anyone who has ever had any interest in the Pythons would not want to add Monty Python: Almost the Truth to his/her collection. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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