In one of the audio tracks on the DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, co-director Terry Gilliam credits Robert Bresson’s 1974 film Lancelot of the Lake (New Yorker Films DVD) as an inadvertent inspiration for Grail. Gilliam describes how audience members burst into laughter during a screening of Lancelot when a knight is beheaded and a ludicrous amount of blood erupts from his neck like a geyser; Python fans will recall the Black Knight’s determination to fight on despite the loss of all his limbs. But Lancelot of the Lake is not a comedy; it is a sombre exploration of the death of the chivalric dream. The surviving Knights of the Round Table return from their failed quest, demoralized and divided. In Bresson’s version of the Grail legend, Lancelot considers himself responsible for their failure, which he sees as a punishment for his adulterous relationship with Queen Guinevere and his betrayal of the King. Bresson’s trademark as a filmmaker was his use of nonprofessionals in all the roles, and his insistence on performances that are curiously devoid of emotion when compared with most modern cinema. His films are closer to literature than they are to theatre. With literature there are no emotions in the words themselves; it is the readers who imagine passion from their reading of the text. Bresson’s work is much the same: when you think back on a Robert Bresson film, it will not be the actors’ performances that you remember; what will remain is the story and the dialogue, and the reactions that were stirred in you as a result.