Tag: Holy Grail

December 22, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Peg Aloi

The Fisher King -1991 – dir. Terry Gilliam

Filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s version of the Fisher King legend posits a Manhattan where knights joust in Central Park, a thousand strangers waltz in Grand Central Station, and courtly love lives alongside dementia, decay and death. The ancient tale has been analyzed by scholars like Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Jessie Weston and Robert Graves, and is a central aspect of the Arthurian legend. The wounded king is Jack (Jeff Bridges), a popular radio talk-show host whose brash, arrogant misanthropy leads indirectly to a mass shooting that claims a number of victims; his ensuing guilt and shattered reputation leave him unemployed and depressed, riddled with guilt and self-loathing. In a scene slyly reminiscent of It’s a Wonderful Life, Jack meets a sort of guardian angel in Perry (Robin Williams, in one of his most enjoyable and eminently watchable screen portrayals). Perry is a former professor of medieval studies, who was personally affected by the shooting and who ends up homeless and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. When the two men cross paths several times, it seems inevitable they will both bring about the other’s rejuvenation, and the roles of wounded king and questing knight are often reversed and overlapped: which of these men is more wounded, and which one is most capable of selfless compassion?

December 10, 2008 / / Film Notes

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 1989 – dir. Steven Spielberg

Sean Connery.

Harrison Ford is in this movie too, but Indy for the first time takes a backseat to a character that is even more engaging than he is: his father.

A public left scratching their heads at the significance of Shiva Lingas identified far more readily with the lure of the Holy Grail.  “Every man’s dream,” indeed.

Of course, the Holy Grail is a metaphor, and while it makes a physical appearance in this film, it stands for tempered wisdom, responsibility, and courage.  Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) says, “The search for the Grail is the search for the divine in all of us.”  Indiana Jones, as he walks the breath, word, and path of God, demonstrates his humility, his wisdom, and his bravery.  In short, Indiana must prove himself heroic to be worthy of the grail.  Certainly, so must we all.