Monty Python’s Life of Brian


The comedy of “The Princess Bride” reminded me of one of its influences, “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”. What better movie to post on a Sunday? I love the avant-garde deconstruction of film-making that is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” but, for me, “Life of Brian” is a better, more enjoyable, and much more important movie.

Made by the Monty Python team it’s a satire on religion, prophets, cults, fundamentalists and political protesters, amongst many other things. So it’s as relevant today as it ever was. It tells the story of Brian, who is born nearby Jesus Christ on the same day and keeps getting mistaken for the Messiah.

Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam had co-directed “Holy Grail”, but Jones took over directing this time. The production does a fantastic job of parodying the classic religious Hollywood movies of the golden age such as “The Ten Commandments” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.

It’s basically a series of hilarious comedy sketches set during the time of Christ. However, the Pythons made a conscious decision never to make fun of Jesus himself. Yet the film was still picketed by religious groups, banned in several parts of the UK, and completely banned in Ireland. Despite that it became the highest grossing film in the UK that year. The bans have now all been lifted (although some only about 10 years ago) and it’s now even been shown in some churches.

Graham Chapman (who used to go to my local pub) is brilliant as the constantly perplexed Brian. And, as usual, the other Pythons are wonderfully silly in multiple roles. It has been described by many as the greatest comedy film of all time. If only more people who are in thrall to any religion whatsoever would watch it … if they’ve got a sense of humour.

I got this bit from Wikipedia. In 2013, Richard Burridge, a theologian decorated by Pope Francis, called “Life of Brian” an “extraordinary tribute to the life and work and teaching of Jesus. They did a great satire on closed minds and people who follow blindly. It is a wonderful satire on the way that Jesus’ own teaching has been used to persecute others. They were satirising fundamentalism and persecution of others and at the same time saying the one person who rises above all this was Jesus”.

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