Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis campus only



First Advisor

Rachel Joseph


This paper analyzes two contemporary film adaptations of Arthurian legend, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015), in terms of their relationship to the conservative political and literary history of the Arthurian canon, and their own political and ideological content. The multicultural, multilingual history of the Arthurian canon, and the eclipse of that history by the preeminence of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur as the most definitive English language version, have lasting effects on the continuation of Arthurian adaptation into the modern day. The myth’s cultural significance and widespread familiarity has historically protected it from unbiased analysis in the full light of contemporary context. The two films analyzed handle the conservative history of the myth in opposite ways: Monty Python actively engages with and critiques that history by creating narrative distance to encourage skepticism, whereas Kingsman is steeped in conservative tradition and deliberately creates an immersive “fun” experience that discourages critical analysis. Building particularly on Brecht’s “alienation effect,” the paper demonstrates how the narrative distance employed by Monty Python serves to jolt viewers out of comfortable familiarity and sparks fresh analysis, while Kingsman’s dedication to obscuring the mechanisms of fiction is an attempt to lull audiences into a sense of security in the status quo.