Courage is probably the most important trait that can be attributed to any knight. In spite of the various vices that Arthur’s knights posses in both Mallory and Tennyson, cowardice is certainly not one of them. From the Battle of Badon Hill to Arthur’s final encounter with the hosts of Mordred, noble knights stand strong no matter what the odds. This is not the case, however, in Monty Python’s retelling of events.
In one scene, the knights encounter a creature that, according to the enchanter, Tim, is “so terrible, that the bones of full fifty men lay strewn before its lair”. The creature turns out to be a small, white rabbit (or a stuffed rabbit on a string during the fighting sequences). The viewer quickly learns however that this is one mean rabbit that is capable of decapitating a knight before he can say “forsooth”. The knights are terrified and the voice of King Arthur is heard exclaiming “Run away!” as he and his men retreat in fear from the bunny.
And who can forget “Brave Sir Robin”? Here is a knight that is so timid that his only recorded exploits are the battles from which he fled. Indeed, Sir Robin is an anti-Knight who tiptoes in trepidation throughout the forest as his overly-cheerful minstrel sings about his cowardice. The knights of Monty Python turn out to be yellow under their armor.
The film is strangely, yet aptly, concluded by the arrival of British policemen who halt an impending siege upon the French castle that holds the grail. Arthur and Bedevere join Lancelot in jail and the remaining army is marched backward by a police officer shouting into a megaphone. At one point, the police man notices the camera and states, “Alright sonny, that’s enough. Just pack that in!” All of a sudden the camera goes black and cheerful organ music begins to play. The strange and abrupt nature of this conclusion is a message in itself. Despite all the fancy finery and noble chivalry of romantic medieval tales, the real world wins out in the end. Arthur and his knights are revealed to be a farce and the ideals which they uphold cannot, at least according to Monty Python, stand up to reality.