Film A Week 49: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

Python 19:69

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Brian. And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Brian, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.

Wait a bloody second…who the fuck is Brian?


1979’s Monty Python’s Life of Brian, for those who do not know, is about Brian Cohen, who was also born on the same night as the Messiah that is Jesus Christ. Later in life, Brian is praised as a new Messiah, but does not want any part of it and would rather go against the Romans. The highly controversial Monty Python film satirizes the Old Testament by examining the nature of religious followers, the beliefs and going after stories told in Catholicism. Before we get to the review, here is a brief overview of the controversy.

The film caused an uproar over its comedic take on religion being accused of blasphemy toward Jesus Christ and the teaching which led the film to be banned in countries such as Norway for years. It got to a point that the Python have defended themselves left and right to say the only thing they poked fun at the modern interpretations of religion and transplant them into 1 A.D. Judea around tea time. The Pythons themselves studied and researched the religious stories before even writing the script. As a Python fan myself, I feel they are intelligent enough to completely attack such a sensitive subject, but would rather make an insightful hilarious commentary on the subject at hand.

Luckily, famous (and personal favorite) Beatle George Harrison helped to fund the film after EMI Films dropped out due to the subject matter. Harrison was a big Python fan and wanted to see the film made leading to what Terry Jones called “world’s most expensive cinema ticket” of £3 million. Harrison even pops up in one scene after Brian is seen as the new Messiah.

Uttering his only line of “Hello”

If readers want to dive deeper into the debate and the blasphemy claims, go ahead and read up because it is a fascinating subject to dive into and the aftermath involved. Here is a debate between John Cleese and Michael Palin up against satirist Malcolm Mudderidge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood for those curious minds out there.

So, how does the film hold up? As a Catholic man myself, I find this movie, for lack of a better word to use for a review, fuckin’ hysterical. The Python’s totally knew what they wanted to poke fun at and went along for the ride to enjoy it all. I find it a bit odd that this movie still causes an uproar as it is tame in comparision to the religious stabs delivered by Family Guy and South Park on a weekly basis. The film takes a much needed poke at the followers of religion over the actual Messiah. One of the best scenes in my case is where Brian is trying to blend in with religious chanters to get away from the Romans leading some people to follower him and debate on what Brian leaves behind for the followers to worship. Later, it comes to a head when they go to his house leading his mom to slap the ever loving shit out of him for having them believe he is the Messiah.

It leads to Brian saying that they should think for themselves. It is beautiful for a comedy to say something in that vain better than the Bible could ever say from my perspective. There is nothing very wrong or blasphemous about Life of Brian in the religious sense in my case and I found it very profound. Never for a second did I feel offended or shocked (then again, I am the kind of man who plays Cards Against Humanity for fun). From the stoning sequence that is beyond hilarious to the Biggus Dickus conversation, I had a ball with this movie. The Python are all top notch in this with Michael Palin stealing every damn scene he is in as Pointus Pilate and his lisp. Every when the movie delivers a spaceship battle out of frickin’ nowhere.

Known to YouTube as the Deus Ex Spaceship

Terry Jones’ direction is damn great and gives the comedy a larger than life feel to it making it seem like a Hollywood epic, despite being on a smaller budget than those epics. Life of Brian is a comedy classic that I will continue watching for years to come and even feels a bit like a new Christmas tradition for me to watch. Put down your religious view aside and enjoy a true classic. Now, I believe it’s time to look on the bright side of life.

This Saturday, we venture back into horror territory with one of two Christmas classics we are covering. Before Bob Clark directed the holiday Christmas comedy A Christmas Story, he directed this delightful and frightful horror gem. The film tells the story of a nice and quiet sorority house with members who happen to get killed off one by one over the Christmas break by a killer hidden within the house. Prepare to face the terror a top Santa’s list on Saturday with 1974’s Black Christmas.

The Final Month of Film A Week
Film A Week 50: Black Christmas (1974)
Saturday, December 21


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