Back on the big screen: The 'Holy Grail' and POWs
This week, there are two decades-old films, both essential, showing on the big screen in the Philly area. One you may have missed, but you've probably memorized a dozen lines from the other's script. The first is among the finest antiwar movies ever made; the other features dirt-caked peasants with a penchant for political philosophy: "Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!"
Anyone with a cursory acquaintance of nerd lore will recognize the above as one of the many oft-quoted nuggets from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which the Ritz at the Bourse will show at midnight Friday. The 1975 film's fanatical fan base will likely indulge in a rambunctious, and no doubt well-lubricated, recitation with John Cleese and company. Despite the racket, and given the late hour, you'll probably nod off before the uninspired end of the film. But it will all be worth it if the whole audience breaks into a tuneless rendition of the "Camelot Song." Fingers crossed.
For those hoping to be in bed by midnight, the Ambler Theater will be showing Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion on Thursday, at 7:30. (Bonus feature: It's in French, so no one, barring an explosive growth in the Parisian ex-pat community, will be reciting favorite lines to the annoyance of the less-sozzled members of the audience.)
Released in 1937, Grand Illusion is centered on the efforts of a group of French soldiers trying to escape from German POW camps. It is the original prison-break film, but, unlike most war movies, it does not demonize the warriors of either side. Instead, Renoir plays up the similarities among classes, ethnicities, nationalities, and warring nations. Lines on a map, Grand Illusion argues, are just as poor a reason for war as the idea that King Arthur's "farcical aquatic ceremony" gives him power over the peasants.
For more on Grand Illusion, visit www.amblertheater.org. For Monty Python, see www.landmarktheatres.com. Have an event to include in "Jawnts"? (It's a play on the Philly slang term "jawn.") E-mail Jake Blumgart at email@example.com.