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And in the 1979th year of Our Lord, God took in a screening of Monty
Python's "Life Of Brian," and thought it was funny.
He did NOT think the film was blasphemous or offensive in any way. Yea, God did admire it's incredibly clever pokes at religion and at religious fanatics, for God Himself knew the virtue of being able to laugh at one's self. He also knew before He even walked into the theater that the title character, Brian, was NOT Jesus Christ, but merely a man who was born at the same time as Christ---right next door, in fact---and became mistaken for a messiah. God settled into His seat, with popcorn in one hand and diet soda in another, and had a rollicking good time.
He recommended "Life Of Brian" to His Son, Jesus, who went to see it the following week. He, too, thought it was a hilarious film, and immediately sang the praises of the Monty Python troupe---John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam & Michael Palin---for creating such a wonderful spoof. And He recommended the film to His friends. Have an open mind, He told them, and have fun.
But God and His Son were quite puzzled why so many people in the Bible Belt community were so upset by "Life Of Brian"---especially the ones who hadn't even bothered to SEE the frigging film for fear of being damned for all time. And They both shook their heads in dismay. It's only a movie, They thought, and a very funny, harmless one at that. Get a life!
But God gave Monty Python's "Life Of Brian" the power to overcome such ridiculous adversity, and today, well over two decades later, the film is rightfully regarded as a comedy classic, and one of the Python's finest works. It's *still* not a film for everybody, but does it have to be? If you're in tune with the Python's style of zany comedy, you'll enjoy "Life Of Brian."
And praise be to Saint George Harrison, late of The Beatles, for lending the Pythons a hand in making this wonderful movie. :-)
In Life of Brian, Python created what John Cleese called simply "our
masterpiece". As a piece of writing, it is the most impressive of the
three feature length Python movies. The scenes remain episodic, but
there is a much more coherent narrative than in the earlier Holy Grail
I loved HG too, but for different reasons. The characters (well about
one or two of the characters) have acquired some subtle shading, which
is rare in comedy and, alas, rare in British comedy in particular. The
plight of Chapman's Brian is one that I really cared about (although
his death is also extremely funny, upbeat and one of the truly iconic
moments in British cinema).
The story must be fairly well known. Brian is born at the same time as Jesus with whom he leads a kind of parallel life, thus allowing the team to lampoon and satirise everything from religious zealotry and mob hysteria to 1950s biblical/sword & sandals epic cinema. It does this by marrying historic situations with more modern attitudes; thus we have revolutionary Stan who wants to be Loretta and have the right to have babies, the old man who can't understand why he's being stoned for saying simply "that piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!" the gruff centurion correcting Brian's Latin grammar while he's trying to daub anti-Roman slogans on a wall and the gentle centurion asking each of a line of the condemned "crucifixion? Good" while ticking them off on his clipboard. Interspersed with this is slapstick, pantomime women (I'm not sure there are any real women in Python, which is probably its greatest failing) and a small amount of the trademark Python surrealism (the spaceship, the "prophet" talking about the sons misplacing the things owned by their fathers who had placed them down only just a moment ago etc). In short, something for everyone except, perhaps, committed Christians.
A lot of attention has been paid to whether LoB is blasphemous. The Pythons claim not and I'm not sufficiently religious to care very much. On the surface, I disagree. There are also occasional sideswipes at ancient Jewish custom although, to be fair, only stoning which, if you'll pardon the pun, might be considered a fair target. Jesus is not criticised, but the film's central message seems to be; be in the right place at the right time and even a man called Brian can become God. Almost the last line is from Eric Idle saying; "you come from nothing and go back to nothing" which doesn't suggest that the man on the mount at the beginning is a divinity, no matter whether he's talking sense or not.
Most importantly though, LoB is refreshingly satirical. There always was an element of this in Python (mediaeval Christian philosophy lampooned in the Holy Grail for example "this new learning amazes me Sir Bedevere, explain again how sheeps' bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes so, if she weighs the same as a duck, she must be made of wood, and therefore - a witch". I guess LoB attracted attention because the satire had never been so bold or obvious before. This is also what makes LoB such an incredibly funny film to watch; but put it this way despite what Rowan Atkinson may have once said I'd be very surprised if the Python's weren't expecting the Spanish Inquisition.
That shouldn't put you off, though. Unless your faith is too weak to survive Python's gentle humanism, watch this movie you'll probably love it.
One of my fave films of all time, this film has so many laugh-out-loud
and ridiculous thought processes that it would probably be unfair to pick
out just a few.
Tough - I'm going to: John Cleese as the legionnary Latin teacher rebuking
Brian not for daring to use graffiti on the Roman fort but for using the
wrong tense, Michael Palin trying to find his place in life as an
Terry Jones as Brian's mother trying to protect him from myrrh - let's
it, we've all wondered what myrrh is !
The bit that always makes me laugh without fail is something that isn't
always noticed - when Michael Palin is having a go at the guards; "Do you
find it risible when I say the name of my friend Biggus Diccus ?" if you
look carefully you'll see that Palin is trying really hard not to
Puerile, silly but also very very clever. This film doesn't criticise religion or Jesus in any way ( what was wrong with the people who tried to ban it ? ) - it's just asking what it could have been like in a society that was expecting the Messiah to show up at any moment, and covering it in a massive coating of comedy.
This film is an absolute classic - 10 out of 10.
It's impossible for me to be objective about this film. I know every
and line by heart. Not because I'm one of those ghastly Python nerds,
anal obsessiveness sucks the whole spirit out of everything they did, and
actually misses the joke, which is on them; they are the perfect subjects
for a Python lampoon. No. I only know LIFE OF BRIAN so intimately
I've seen it so often, it's still one of the funniest comedies I've ever
seen, and persists in being hilarious despite familiarity, which, as in so
much Python did, is the reverse of what comedy is 'supposed' to be made of
Also, nostalgia value. MONTY PYTHON were my first heroes, before I even reached double figures. I gobbled up every programme, film and record in a space of a couple of short years, so they are bound up with a period of my life when I was very happy and hopeful, so I go all misty-eyed when I see it. Bizarrely, we were first encouraged to watch BRIAN by our Latin teacher, who felt it was very insightful about Roman society.
But no-one watches PYTHON anymore, except that dorkish clique. My brother, only a couple of years my junior, is as mystified now by my reaction to it as my parents were then. But surely BRIAN is a comic masterpiece in itself, accessible to anyone who found the very male, elitist, academic bias of the programme somewhat alienating?
How can I implore you to watch this? It's got a straight narrative, with some of the greatest set-pieces and dialogue of any film ever. It's not a great FILM comedy - Terry Jones is no Gilliam - but the style suits the humour perfectly, allowing it to breathe, and sometimes pulling off an extraordinarily evocative shot, such as when Brian and his mother are walking from Jesus' sermon, and squabbling about petty things like big noses, and the camera pulls back to a vast Judean wasteland, with a massive Roman statue being wheeled, and a set of crucifixes being planted: a marvellous encapsulation of a period in history.
This is the film's true triumph - it's a magnificent deconstruction of historical distortion. By paralleling the life of Christ with that of an ordinary little man, Python reclaim history from symbol and myth. It brings the body back into history. Its resolute rejection of divinity leads to a bleak, ironic conclusion (listen to 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' carefully, and in context: it's NOT comforting) - the story of Jesus without redemption is ghastly.
The intelligence behind the juvenile gags is astonishing - the film is a learned commentary on power, totalitarianism, repression, language, gender, the writing of history, the politics of subversion, the complicity of the repressed. Myth is thrown to the wind - the film succeeds where Reg and his revolutionaries fail, by revealing a whole series of repressive apparatum (sic?). No-one is spared - the film is unashamedly destructive, but the film's satire is not arid or narrow; there are many rich parallels with our own time, as the extraordinary reaction from the religious on the film's release showed.
But BRIAN is not just an attack on religion, but on all who would seek to write selective histories for their own interests, suppressing others' voices. The silliest jokes are also the most profound - in one scene, the kidnappers enter Pilate's palace through a tiled floor. They emerge through a modesty-concealing leaf painted on this floor. This is snickering schoolboy humour, and very very funny, but is also a comment on the phallocentricity of imperialism. Jokes like these are why BRIAN will always remain vital - it turns you into a ludicrous, ill-informed amateur historian.
The acting is an astonishing feat of multiple performances, but Graham Chapman, always my favorite Python, holds the chaos together, ironically as the Kafkaesque hero who races towards the abyss, an anti-Jesus to love and identify with. If I've made the film sound like hard work, than I'm an idiot. The seriousness is only there if you want it. Like Alice in Wonderland, or Buster Keaton, PYTHON seem to be full of metaphors that encapsulate the pains of life, but are also damnably entertaining. It's strange that men as supposedly 'surreal' and 'out there' as the Pythons should speak such good sense. Only BRINGING UP BABY, THE PALM BEACH STORY, and MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, are funnier than this. Treasure it.
This film is by far the best of the Python outings. It ranks as one of
my favorite films of all time, which unlike 'The Holy Grail', hasn't
dated with time but improves with repeated viewing.
The Pythons supposed take on Christianity, which caused outrage when it was first released (mostly by people who hadn't seen it), is actually a take on cults, both religious and political, and the people who follow them.
Brian, our hapless hero, is confused, horny, and constantly mistaken for the Messiah; who just happened to be born in the manger next to him. Brian just wants to be left alone, and to pursue his love for Judith, a member of the People's Front of Judea. Judith just wants the Romans to go home; but only after they've left the sanitation, the medicine, education, irrigation, roads, public order, etc., etc. ... oh and don't forget the wine!
Will Brian's love for Judith go unrequited? Will only the cheese makers be blessed, or does this refer to all manufacturers of dairy products? And just what have the Romans ever done for us?
It's subtle; it's anarchic; and it's possibly still banned in Norway. This is classic seamless comedy at its best. 10/10.
True, my tastes are eclectic. This movie is so incredibly clever and thought provoking that it's not surprising that it raised so many hackles. Plus, it's as fast paced and funny as a Marx Brothers movie without the musical breaks. You can watch it 20 times and you'll still sing at the end. Undoubtedly one of the top 10!!
This is, in my opinion, the best religious movie ever made. Monty Python's Flying Circus knows how to do everything hilariously. Focusing on Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman), who gets mistaken for the messiah in Judea in 33 AD, the movie pokes fun at everything: Romans, Jews, imperialism, even extraterrestrials. With sardonic lines almost every minute, they play religious fundamentalism for what it is: silly. I don't even know which scene was my favorite; every part was so funny. You'll never forget the song at the end. This is comedy in its greatest form, and it makes sense that it would come from the guys who brought us the "parrot sketch". Absolutely a hoot.
While Quest for the Holy Grail was funny because it was so low-budgetty
and silly, Life of Brian is more advanced and with a greater variation
of humour. It also has a bigger budget, which is great to see. Every
scene looks realistic, and the sets (someone said they were formerly
used by "The Last Temptation of Christ?) are great.
Almost every line in this movie is a classic, and all of them very quotable. The characters are hilarious, and out-of-this world zany.The plot is good, and contrary to the Holy Grail, it actually comes to a satisfying conclusion.
The movie also dares to joke about religion. No, they don't joke about Jesus or God, but about the believers in them. The line "I say you are Messiah, and I should know. I've followed a few" is so spot-on it hurts(when I laugh).
All in all, watch this. This is possibly the funniest movie ever created. You can't afford to miss it.
When a film is still funny 25 years after it's made, and doesn't feel particularly aged, even a quarter of a century later, then you know that you've struck gold. The famous Monty Python crew once again take a well-known subject and make a lot of fun of it. This time, the subject is religion, or, more specifically, Christianity. Everyone who knows at least a little about Christianity, which is pretty much anyone from the western world, will probably be able to laugh at something in this movie. Unless, of course, you are very Christian yourself, in that case you will probably feel that the film is blasphemous(I don't personally think so, since it makes fun of the followers and the general stupidity of people and organizations back in 30-something A.D., rather than Jesus and his teachings). The plot is about as incoherent as the usual Monty Python team film, though it should be noted that, like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it is an actual film, and not a series of sketches, like, for example, the Meaning of Life. It's about as paced as they usually are, most of the scenes contain a lot of jokes, and then they move on to the next scene, after about five minutes of jokes and sight gags. This is, unfortunately, the problem with their films; if you don't like the jokes, the film might seem extremely slow to you; of course, one could argue that Monty Python mainly make movies for the jokes sake, but they could do better on the pacing, for the sake of viewers who don't like all those repeated jokes. That's not to say that I don't like them, I laugh at them most of the time, heck, I laughed so hard that I almost got stomach ache from it at one particular instant. But, I guess that a lot of people won't like them for this way of making movies. Oh well. You can't please everyone. The humor is great, it's standard Python wacky, crazy humor, so every Python fan should enjoy it. People who don't like Monty Python should give this a chance too, if they have at least a little humor, and they aren't Christian extremists. Christian "believers" can probably laugh at it too, like I said, it's not the religion itself, it's more the brainwashed followers that the film makes fun of. All in all, a great film for fans of the Python crew, and people who have a sense of humor about religion(a dark sense of humor, that is). I recommend it to fans of Monty Python, people who enjoy dark humor and people who can laugh a little at the less intelligent parts of Christianity. I fall into all three categories, and I loved it. 8/10
Monty Python's follow-up to their cult smash Holy Grail was Life of Brian, a
film that takes on (if not always with the utmost seriousness, then usually
with a mix of silliness and slight intellectualism) the believers in
religions, the zealous nature that belief brings out in people. I first saw
the film in the theater upon its re-release last month, and I found it very
funny, though not with the kind of belly laughs that I had on my first
reaction to Holy Grail. It's not without it's scenes that stick out as some
of Python's finest (the Stoning, Pilate's scenes, the Spaceship sequence),
even as sometimes it goes a little too broad for comfort (part of the
Yet, the great strengths that lie in Life of Brian are that 1) the writers and performers (Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Jones, Idle, Palin) bring their irreverent strengths to a fine point with the script and multiple roles. Even when a scene doesn't get the laughs it could've or should've, it turns out to be a scene brimming with a cleverness that could only exist in the "Python-esque" universe. 2) the director (Jones) and designer/animator (Gilliam) lay the groundwork for this realistic atmosphere of 33 A.D. and bring out what is the best in the acting, Pythons or otherwise (famous British comedian Spike Milligan has a role of note). Held over from the sets of Franco Zeferelli's Christ film, the Pythons use all these locations and settings and little details to spring out their wild, brilliant gags. The look of the film enriches the comedic elements, and the result is (arguably, of course) the troupe's best film. Not for all tastes by the way (Monty Python in general for me took some while to warm up to, but paid off once it worked). Grade: A
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