Monty Python's Life of Brian
I was first in contact with Monty Python whilst I was in class; I got one of their albums Monty Python's Previous Record out from the local library and was instantly hooked. However, it would be over a decade before I got the opportunity to see the entire 4 seasons of the ground breaking Monty Python's Flying Circus series in total and even then I was required to shell out a small fortune to import the 14 disc DVD 'Mega Set' that had been only available from the Arts & Entertainment television network in the united states at the time. I'm envious of the current generation of Python neophytes who will download their entire oeuvre direct from iTunes instantly.
Although the TV series was unavailable on home video in great britan throughout my teens I was fortunate to be able to get the three of the feature films on tape to see over and over again. After the box office success of the low budget Monty Python and the Ultimate goal the Python's got the financial resources of Beatle George Harrison's fledging HandMade Films and spent 2 weeks in a Caribbean beach retreat writing the script that would become their recognised masterpiece Monty Python's Life of Brian, an epic literally of biblical proportions.
Whilst Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones had shared the directorial reigns of Ultimate goal somewhat frustratingly, this time out Gilliam is targeted on the production design leaving Jones to pay attention squarely on directing the performances. In essence that Life of Brian is regarded as the cinematic Python movie, looking less just like a comedy and every bit much like the Hollywood Biblical Epics so it parodies. Graham Chapman stars as Brian Cohen, a new Jewish man who lives a parallel life to Jesus and is often mistaken to the Messiah.
The production benefitted from filming in Monastir, Tunisia where Franco Zeffirelli had recently shot the lavish miniseries Jesus of Nazareth, we were holding also able to re-use various costumes which helped complement authenticity the team were pursuing, as Terry Jones says while in the audio commentary "there is not a reason why a comedy can't look beautiful" and Life of Brian certainly looks incredibly sharp about this Sony Pictures Blu-ray release.
Despite being banned during the entire world's more strictly Christian countries, including Scotland, to get blasphemous the film actually treats Christ played by Kenneth Colley with great respect, it's not claiming to be the life of Jesus all things considered. In fact if the movie may be accused of anything it would be heresy as the obvious target of the company's biting satire is the rigid dogma and hypocrisy of the numerous churches that can not seem to agree on the exact purpose of the teachings of Christ despite over 2,000 many years of often calamitous debate.
It also takes a side swipe at the political infighting in separatist factions much like the "People's Front of Judea" or "Judean People's Front" and challenges the unthinking devotion of the masses who long to check out acts of God while in the most banal everyday incidents, as depicted with the unwanted gourd that Brian acquires out there. Above all else Life of Brian comes complete full of the wonderfully absurd wordplay which you come to expect from the Monty Python team and each member has an opportunity to shine in many memorable performances; they get a chance to play a scene with their Goon Show idol, Spike Milligan, who has been commemorating a battlefield in North Africa at the time and spent each day on the set.
Animator Terry Gilliam takes enable you to do a full-blown, incongruous, action sequence in the middle of the film when Brian has chased by the Roman Centurions he is found by a randomly passing alien spaceship which enables for a fleeting send-up of George Lucas' The exorcist. The movie reaches a climax with the sardonic sing-along of Eric Idle's song "Always Look within the Bright Side of Life" by those sentenced to death by crucifixion alongside Brian, an iconic image to close the film.
The hidef release contains the majority of the material from the Criterion Collection DVD release, like the two feature length audio commentaries, one featuring Michael Palin and John Cleese as well as other Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones, which both give a wealth of background information. There is the entire audio read of the script with the team which has been set towards typed script and excerpts of the original storyboard. The hour long Story of Brian is really a detailed documentary which charts the talk and subsequent banning of the film.
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Monty Python's Life of Brian is regarded as the cohesive of all their movies, it's not only one of the funniest comedies ever produced it's also an insightful probing of the history of organised religion plus a cautionary tale about the hazards of blind faith as well as loss of individualism.