Movie Review

Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)

In Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) the King Arthur of Britain, shown as incompetent and resourceless goes in search of the Holy Grail in 932AD. The story in Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) happens millennia earlier in Jerusalem, narrating the story of a “Brian” who is born next door to Jesus Christ. From the three wise men, many confuse Brian as the son of God.  And this confusion is used to deliver a satirical comedy. If you can enjoy this type of comedy without being offended, check out this film. It gets a Mangoidiots rating of ‘Ripe’ and available on Netflix.

Jesus Christ doesn’t have any direct role in the film. The Holy Messiah is shown only in a few scenes in the backdrop & with an aura unlike anyone else in the film. The story is about the life of ‘Brian’ who gets infatuated with an attractive lady Judith and joins the rebel group she is a member to work on a few rides against the ruling Romans.

Hilarious was the scene where the rebel group leader introduces their group as not the Judean People’s Front, but the People’s Front of Judea (PFJ); and that the only people they hate more than the Romans are the *** Judean People’s Front and the Judean Popular People’s Front. In another scene, the rebel group leader asks “What have the Romans ever done for us?” only to hear from his followers that they gave “sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a freshwater system, public health, and peace“. The film gets absurd in a few places – like in a scene where Brian gets saved by Aliens and whose spacecraft gets attacked while on the way to another Galaxy.

Like in the Asterix series, the film shows the Romans to be nitwits especially Governor Pontius Pilate. As you would expect, the climax features the crucifixion of Brian along with Jesus Christ and 138 others, but ending with a song (Always Look on the Bright Side of Life) that celebrates life:

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it, it’s your last chance anyhow.

It was forty years ago the film was made, and over the years it has become a cultural phenomenon that the Wiki page lists many references to it being said by personalities including former British PM Mr Tony Blair. If you look carefully a lot of films around the world will have scenes influenced by it – e.g.: the scene where Brian gets up in the morning and on his way to the bathroom he gets swamped by people who want to be his followers could have been the inspiration for a similar scene in Director S.Shankar‘s Mudhalan (1999).

In the centre is Graham Chapman as Brian Cohen of Nazareth
In the centre is Graham Chapman as Brian Cohen of Nazareth

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