The 40thanniversary re-release of Monty Python's Life of Brian over the bank holiday weekend invites in the public one more time to enjoy this quintessentially British classic. As much as the film is a product of its time, the themes of religion and heresy are satirised with a charm that doesn’t happen much these days. As a first-time viewer I felt the comedy was sharp when it needed to be, proving to be consistently humorous though not laugh out loud funny, with several sketches standing out in my mind. Coinciding with Good Friday and the Easter weekend, Life of Brian is a brilliantly funny way to commemorate the holiday.
The film focuses on Brian, a man who was born on the same day as Jesus Christ and is mistaken for being the messiah. As he tries to convince everyone he is just a man, the people become more fanatic until the finale with the infamous ‘Bright side of life’ scene. For newer audiences it can be disorienting seeing the same actors pop up as different characters from sketch to sketch and even within the same sketch as the band of John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin take turns with Graham Chapman (Brian).
The anniversary screenings include several props, stickers, a poster and the lyrics to the finale so you can join in. It’s a nice little goodie bag for fans and newcomers to enjoy. It’s a stark contrast to the original release of the film, which was banned (like in Norway and Ireland) or restricted upon its release. Monty Python took pains to focus on Brian rather than Jesus to avoid being heretical but it was only some time after its release did it develop into a cult classic.
Life of Brian is a cornerstone in British film, testing the waters of censorship and sensibilities of the time, while it might not be shocking to modern audiences, the value is in the comedy and the impact it has had on British culture. A must for anyone who wishes to see the ‘Bright side of life’ this weekend.
Life of Brian is out now on selected cinemas and DVD.
Words by Sunny Ramgolam @SunnyRamgolam.
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