If you like this film, it might be of interest to you to know that criterion has made a "Brian" DVD release. This means we get to see Brian for the first time in on a anamorphic widescreen transfer, besides this you get loads of other stuff:

Life of Brian (1979)

Director: Terry Jones
Cast Notables:
Wise Man #2/Brian/Biggus Dickus - Graham Chapman
Wise Man #1/Reg/Jewish Official/Centurion/Deadly Dirk/Arthur - John Cleese
Man #2/Jailer/Blood & Thunder Prophet/Frank - Terry Gilliam
Mr. Cheeky/Stan/Loretta/Harry the Haggler/Culprit Woman/Warris/Youth/Jailer's Assistant/Otto/Mr. Frisbee III - Eric Idle
Mandy/Colin/Simon the Holy Man/Bob Hoskins/Saintly Passer-by - Terry Jones
Wise Man #3/Mr. Big Nose/Francis/Mrs. A/Ex-Leper/Announcer/Ben/Pontius Pilate/Boring Prophet/Eddie/Shoe Follower/Nisus Wettus - Michael Palin

Synopsis

Brian, played by Graham Chapman, is born in a manger in Bethlehem. Three wise men confuse him with Jesus, and his troubles only mount from there.

The story follows Brian through his mishap-ridden life, from his discovery of his Roman heritage, to his joining the People's Front of Judea (not to be confused with those wankers the Judean People's Front or the Popular People's Front of Judea.), to his stint as reluctant prophet, and his eventual arrest by the Romans.

Leave it to the Monty Python troupe to deliver a scathing look at religion, while at the same time poking fun at the institutions of the time.

The Review

REG: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

XERXES: Brought peace.

Monty Python's Life of Brian is, without question, one of my favorite movies. It is more than a situational comedic film filled with funny skits, as it is also a unrelenting criticism of religion, political activism, and history. It is the sort of satire you have to see at least twice, if only to catch all the bits you missed the first time through because you were laughing so hard you couldn't hear the television.

The only parts I thought were either excessive or pointless were the People's Front of Judea's invasion of Pilate's Palace, which was merely a joke from earlier in the movie badly repackaged and sent from a different--and less funny--direction, and the seemingly never-ending Roman speech impediment gag, with emphasis on the word 'gag'.

These minor unfunny bits do not in any way detract from the movie as a whole, however, and the number of clever jokes and insights more than makes up for it. There is, unfortunately, little else I can say about the specific skits, as I have no intention of ruining this movie for you.

All in all, I give Life of Brian three and a half stars out of four. The missing half point is for the two parts I mentioned above. Why are you still sitting there? Go rent this movie now! Better yet, buy it!

The film the Life of Brian was released in 1979 and is hailed as one of the funniest films of all time, bringing together the many talents of the Monty Python team as:

Graham Chapman .....Wise Man #2/Brian/Biggus Dickus
John Cleese ................Wise Man #1/Reg/Jewish Official/Centurion/Deadly Dirk/Arthur
Terry Gilliam ................Man #2/Jailer/Blood & Thunder Prophet/Frank
Eric Idle .........................Mr. Cheeky/Stan/Loretta/Harry the Haggler/Culprit Woman/Warris/Youth/Jailer's Assistant/Otto/Mr. Frisbee III
Terry Jones ..................Mandy/Colin/Simon the Holy Man/Bob Hoskins/Saintly Passer-by
Michael Palin ...............Wise Man #3/Mr. Big Nose/Francis/Mrs. A/Ex-Leper/Announcer/Ben/Pontius Pilate/Boring Prophet/Eddie/Shoe Follower/Nisus Wettus

The Plot

The film centres around Brian, born at exactly the same time and within a stone's throw from where Jesus is born in Roman-occupied Jerusalem. Brian is about 30, lives with his mother and hates the Romans. He ends up joining the Judean People's Front, one of several separatist groups who don't seem to do anything apart from have meetings about what they are going to do to oust the Romans. With Brian, they find someone who is actually willing to take direct action, such as cover a prestigious Roman building in "ROMANI ITE DOMUM" (Romans go home). He receives help from a Roman Centurion (John Cleese) to get the grammar exact.

Brian then goes on a raid of Pilate's Palace with the rest of the group with the aim of kidnapping Pilate's wife. The plan was then to issue demands, but under no circumstances submit to blackmail.

The raid goes horribly wrong as another group the Campaign for Free Galilee have exactly the same idea and the two groups end up arguing and fighting over who's going to perform the kidnapping. The Romans hear the scuffle and capture Brian, but he manages to get away when Pontious Pilate mentions his "great friend" Biggus Dickus and his guards become paralyzed with laughter.

The Romans then conduct a search of the house the People's Front of Judea are using for a meeting. Brian hides on a poorly-constructed balcony which ends up collapsing causing Brian to fall onto a street preacher below. To save his skin he begins preaching as best he can. When the Romans have gone he stops and goes on his way. Unfortunately, the gathered crowd are intrigued by Brian, and why he now refuses to continue preaching to them, and hail him as the Messiah. The more Brian denies his divinity the more they believe he is the Son of God, "only the true Messiah would deny his divinity" claims one follower, "Okay I am the Messiah" replies Brian and they all cheer. He can't win.

To make matters worse Brian, is then hailed as the leader of the revolution to get rid of the Romans, and is arrested again and sentenced to crucifixion. This ending to the film is quite sad. Up on his cross Brian, hopes for rescue. The People's Front of Judea are the first to turn up, but Reg is quick to point out that they are not in fact the rescue committee, and reads a prepared statement to Brian thanking him for his martyrdom. As Brian shouts "You Bastards!" repeatedly, a Roman Centurion asks who Brian of Nazerath is, a character played by Eric Idle jokingly claims he is, Brian realizes what’s happening and shouts "I'm Brian!" Everyone else being crucified that day quickly hops onto the bandwagon claiming they are Brian. Eric Idle is taken off his cross and pardoned. Brian's next hope comes in the form of the Judean People's Front crack suicide squad. Unfortunately they commit suicide before actually rescuing anyone. Next up is Judith, Brian's love interest throughout the film. He must get rescued now surely, but Reg has already explained to her that Brian wants to be a martyr and she thinks it's great what Brian is doing, despite his denials.

The last person to visit Brian is his mother, but all she has to say is... "So, there you are! I might have known it would end up like this. To think of all the love and affection I've wasted on you. Well, if that's how you treat your poor old mother in the autumn years of her life, all I can say is, 'Go ahead. Be crucified". Brian has been abandoned by all the people close to him.

Eric Idle then appears alongside Brian as another character being crucified, and finishes the film with the famous song 'always look on the bright side of life'.


Why I like this film

I have watched this film over and over, and I never tire of it. It's pure comedy genius, as most Monty Python stuff is. When it first came out there was great controversy as it was thought to be a piss take of Jesus and the whole Christian religion. I remember a TV show on which John Cleese and Michael Palin argue it out with a bishop. This bishop doesn't really come up with a valid argument and resorts to simply insulting the film and the Python team, and you can see the anger and astonishment in Michael Palin's face. I honestly felt sorry for them, they had produced a masterpiece and they had to sit their and take shit from someone who didn't appreciate their genius, had never laughed at a joke in his entire life, and couldn't see past the end of his leather-bound Bible. The film itself never really gets onto the subject of religion or Jesus at all, although Jesus is featured (from a distance) giving his sermon on the mount. It's simply about a guy given a tough ride in life. It's a purely fantastic film that should be celebrated. I think it should be re-released in cinemas today to show people what a brilliant film looks like.

Shortly after the release of Life of Brian, Monty Python was being condemned by the Catholic Church, go figure. In an attempt to reconcile their differences, some British leaders in the Catholic Church chose to discuss the movie with some members of Monty Python on television.

BBC had a show with a point-counterpoint setting. This was the vehicle in which Monty Python and the Catholic Church would have their discussion. John Cleese and Michael Palin were on the show opposite a Cardinal and ArchBishop.

Over the course of the interview, Michael Palin was getting rather upset as he realized the church wasn't going to feel good about their movie no matter what he said. John Cleese was having a grand old time. He turned to the audience and let out the most perfect line:

"Well, I guess this shows just how far the church has come. I mean, a thousand years ago we would have been burned at the stake."

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