Fans of Monty Python, gather your dead parrots and your stuffed John Cleese plushies: today is your day to celebrate the official launch of Monty Python: The Holy Book of Days for iPad, an app that gives faithful Python followers everything they could ever wish for on a plate, with strawberries on top. The rest of us might be left wondering what the fuss is about, though.
The app marks the release of the group’s second movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail on Blu-ray, and acts as a fan’s detailed guide to the making of the film back in 1974.
When I say detailed, I mean detailed. Make sure you clear out any unwanted or unused apps from your iPad before you install this, because it’s a monster, all 1.4 gigabytes of it. Why so huge? Because a lot of it is video. There’s smug Cleese being all smug on the very first page, telling you (rather predictably I thought) what an idiot you are for buying the app in the first place. Then there are loads of never-seen-before outtakes from the original filming, and recently shot visits to old locations, wherein Pythons Palin and Jones look back at their youth and wonder how on earth they got away with it all.
It’s a beautifully made app, put together like a reference book. Browse through the movie either scene-by-scene, or through the 28-day shoot, day-by-day.
That’s how you find out that the Knights Who Say ‘Ni’ scene was filmed on Day 20, that Michael Palin was extremely uncomfortable in the heavy helmet he had to wear, and teetered on top of a ladder while saying his lines to camera. (Palin’s diary entries, also included here, are one of the more entertaining parts of the whole app.) It’s also how you find your way to the scanned copies of the Daily Continuity Report sheets – yes, really – which will tell you the slate number for the shots, and what lens was attached to the camera. I told you it was detailed.
Another feature is so-called Second Screen functionality, when your iPad is linked to your Blu-ray player over wifi. Then you can watch the movie and play with the app at the same time, using your iPad as a glorified remote control to skip around between scenes. I’d rather just watch the movie, myself.
Browsing my way through this app, I couldn’t help getting the feeling that while there are fans of Monty Python, there are also Fans of Monty Python. The vast majority of people fall into the former category and are perfectly happy re-watching the same old silly movies over and over again, and repeating all the silly jokes in front of friends. A tiny minority are actual Fans, and even among them, I can’t imagine that everyone will be interested in reading the Daily Continuity Reports for the shoot.
This is not an app for everyone. It’s an app for true Python Fans, people who know the movies back-to-front and also want to know them inside-out as well.
Pro: Lovely design; detail beyond anything you’ve ever seen.
Con: Sometimes a bit too much detail; huge file size eats up your precious storage space..