a review by Nalini Haynes
Monty Python’s Life of Brian was originally released in 1979. IMDB summarises the story: ‘Brian is born on the original Christmas, in the stable next door. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.’ A short blurb that pretty much sums it up: Brian haplessly wandering around wreaking havoc because people have decided he’s the Messiah or, alternatively, they’ve decided Brian pisses them off.
Last week I watched Life of Brian for the first time in about 25 years and was amazed at how current it remains to this day.
Brian‘s religious satire received an ‘X’ rating in the UK, an ‘R’ rating in the US and total ban in several other countries. It should be noted here that there is some brief full-frontal nudity as well as some ‘cheeky’ shots, but these are minor. There is more nudity and sex in 15 minutes of your average Game of Thrones episode than in the entire Life of Brian.
The religious satire – the spoofing of people’s crowd mentality not the spoofing of religion or spirituality – keeps Brian relevant today. People want a leader and follow like sheep then argue over trivialities. Everyone hates the Judean People’s Front but no-one seems to know why. Brian successfully conveys religious groups with a good idea – like love your neighbour – fracturing into sects bickering with one another. The endless meetings within Brian’s sect, the People’s Front of Judea, spoof religious and secular groups alike.
The six core Monty Python actors perform several roles each. This becomes surreal because Jews become Romans who become Jews hiding from the Romans… Spike Milligan plays a very pissed off prophet while Sue Jones-Davies plays Judith Iscariot.
A day or two after watching Life of Brian again, a young adult (not even born when Brian was released) spontaneously quoted Brian, ‘You are all individuals’ to which he received the reply ‘I’m not!’ in stereo. Life of Brian has crossed generations, maintaining its cult status. IMDB rates Brian at 8.1/10 and Rotten Tomatoes rates it as 96% fresh. Life of Brian should be compulsory viewing at all seminaries. Highly recommended.