lost monty python scripts

And now for something completely different: Lost Monty Python scripts have been discovered in former member Michael Palin‘s archives. The scripts, originally penned as sketches for the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, were uncovered when Palin donated his private archives to the British Library in London where they will go on display later this month.

A treasure trove — you may even say, a Holy Grail — of unmade Monty Python scripts were discovered when the Palin offered up his archives to the British Library last year to be cataloged for eventual public use.

The Times of London reports that the former comedy troupe member owned boxes of unused Monty Python material, including 50 notebooks filled with rough drafts and ideas for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, including an “amorous” Pink Knight, a Wild West bookshop, and a more conventional ending that was ultimately cut in favor of the abrupt, low-budget version with King Arthur getting arrested.

Now, more than four decades after the film’s release, we can get a peek at the lost scenes (for which the Times of London posted the entire script online). And you can kind of see why some of them were cut. While the conventional ending written for the film, which featured the Camelot crew riding into an epic battle against the French with “a vicious streak a mile wide,” was cut for budget reasons, a few of the other scenes were deemed inappropriate — even for the ’70s. The Pink Knight scene, in which an effeminate knight in pink will only allow King Arthur to cross a bridge in exchange for a kiss, feels particularly…troublesome.

“When we were writing Python in 1973, there was much more homophobia — or rather not homophobia exactly, but awkwardness of dealing with the whole subject of homosexuality,” Palin told the Times of London.

The Pink Knight scene, as well as a scene where the Knights of Camelot somehow stumble into a Wild West town where they find “the last bookshop before you get to Mexico” and scenes with the Shakespearean character Hamlet as a “foul-mouthed private detective,” were ultimately cut. But Palin has no regrets over the finished product, which went on to become a massive cult success and even spawned a stage musical (that, fittingly, is now headed to the big screen). He said:

“Sometimes you have things like that. I can’t think why it wasn’t used. The Holy Grail took shape gradually and at the beginning it had far more ideas in it than ended up on screen because you had to have a narrative. In the end the story of the knights was strong enough.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I prefer the abrupt ending that sees the Knights being arrested — it totally suits the film’s overall absurdist humor. And while I’ll miss seeing a foul-mouthed Detective Hamlet, hey, maybe we could see it in Spamalot: The Movie.

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