Favorite Title Theatre: Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (1979)

And now for something completely different. I only recently finally watched this canonic Monty Python film, their second after the legendary MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1975). Sometimes there are deliberate gaps in one’s film landscape, and then the time becomes nigh to fill the cellu-void. I, like others, love the surreal anarchistic humor of the Pythons, while not slavishly so. But I’m certain MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL is the funniest movie ever made. And LIFE OF BRIAN is certainly their most accomplished story and theme, a sharp look at organized religion, and not at all an attack on Christianity as the film’s foe claimed when it opened to controversial press and big box-office.

The story posits a series of theological narrative questions with smart-ass answers, and some quite wise. This is the only Python movie with a serious undertone, if only because it deals with so much religious history. But it is funny, with great bits such as Michael Palin demanding his troops not to snicker at the name “Bigus Dickus” (even I’m snickering as I type) and Eric Idle’s taunt of “Big Nose” no matter what the dire situation. The film’s high satiric point is probably Graham Chapman’s plea to his new flock that they must remain individuals and not followers as they collectively repeat his words.

I knew I immediately liked LIFE OF BRIAN with its surprisingly awesome proto-Shirley Bassey-Bondian title song (John Cleese did want the credits to read “And George Lazenby As Jesus Christ”) and clever, nose-thumbing Terry Gilliam credits (his special effects are quite magnificent too). Amen.


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