Monty Python Totally Forgot Where They Shot an Iconic Scene for ‘Holy Grail’

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While it may have been hell to film Monty Python and the Holy Grail on location in Scotland (John Cleese has frequently complained that it was a “miserable experience” due to the lack of hot water), that commitment to dank medieval realism is arguably what made the comedy work so well. 

Because it wasn’t shot on sets that likely would have just ended up in a dumpster, a lot of Python fans are able to make pilgrimages to the real-life locations used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, including Scotland’s historic Doune Castle, which the group sneakily used over and over and over again.

But the specific geographic location where one memorable scene was filmed was never properly documented — which became a problem when two Pythons later tried to track it down.

For the film’s 25th anniversary DVD, Michael Palin and Terry Jones made a short documentary entitled The Quest for the Holy Grail Locations, in which they journeyed to Scotland in order to revisit some of the key spots where the movie was filmed. While popping by Doune Castle was no problem (they even purchased a copy of their own screenplay from the castle gift shop), Palin and Jones weren’t entirely sure of the location of the “Cave of Caerbannog,” home of the “Legendary Black Beast of Arrrggghhh,” aka that one killer bunny that gets blown up by the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. 

In fact, finding the cave proved to be surprisingly difficult. Well before the DVD came out, newspapers in Scotland reported on the visiting Pythons’ “embarrassing” attempts to locate the cave, which “descended into farce.” Even with the “help of a local forester and two council officers,” they spent hours searching along a “single track road beside Loch Tay where they believed the cave had been.”

At one point, a bus drove by and a frustrated Palin remarked: “If that’s the bus to Glasgow, I’m getting on it.”

Scotland on Sunday

 

The finished documentary does allude to some of these difficulties, with Jones noting in his narration that “we had a real problem trying to find this cave. And 25 years later, we’re still having a hard time finding it.” As they looked for “anything that resembles a film location,” Palin did discover “an awful lot of sheep droppings.” They did, though, finally stumble upon the cave, which was really an old “copper mine”

While they didn’t provide viewers with a precise location, years later a journalist for The Courier was able to track down the cave as well and publish her findings. Now Monty Python fans seem to regularly make trips to the location that very nearly eluded Michael Palin and Terry Jones, even leaving behind offerings to its white rabbit guardian.

I doubt that any Monty Python fans will make similar expeditions to visit the Australian casino where John Cleese’s awkward roast was filmed.

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this).



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