Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Monty Python’s Life of Brian , also known as The Life of Brian , is a 1979 British religious satire comedy starring film and written by the comedy group Monty Python ( Graham Chapman , John Cleese , Terry Gilliam , Idleen Eric , Terry Jones and Michael Palin ). It was also directed by Jones. The film tells the story of Brian Cohen (played by Chapman), a young Jewish man, who is born on the same day, and next door to Jesus Christ , and is subsequently mistaken for the Messiah .

Following the withdrawal of funding by EMI Films Monty Python fan and member of the Beatles , George Harrison , arranged financing for Life of Brian through the training of his company HandMade Films . [4]

The film contains themes of religious satire that were controversial at the time of its release, drawing accusations of blasphemy , and protests from some religious groups. Thirty-nine local authorities in the United Kingdom, or imposed an X (18 years) certificate , effectively preventing the film from being shown, since the distributors said it was unedited AA (14) certificate. Some countries, including Ireland and Norway , with a few of these bans lasting decades. The filmmakers used this to their advantage, with posters in Sweden reading, “So funny, it was banned in Norway!” [5]

The film was a box office success, the fourth-highest-grossing film in the United Kingdom in 1979, and highest grosser of any British film in the United States that year. It has remained popular, receiving positive reviews. The film was named “greatest comedy film of all time” by several magazines and television networks, and it would later receive a 96% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus, “One of the most cutting-edge films of the 1970s This religious farce from the classic comedy is as poignant as it is funny and satirical. ” [6]


Brian Cohen is born in a stable next door to the one in which Jesus is born, who initially confuses the three wise men who come to praise the future King of the Jews. Brian grows up an idealistic young man who resents the continuing Roman occupation of Judea . While attending Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount , Brian becomes infatuated with an attractive young rebel, Judith. His desire for her and the hatred for the Romans lead him to join the “People’s Front of Judea”, one of many fractious and bickering independent movements, who spend more time fighting each other than the Romans.

After several misadventures, and escaping from the Pontius Pilate , Brian would like to be a part of the mysteries and prophets. Forced to come up with something plausible in his mind and keep guards off his back, Brian repeats some of what he had heard, and quickly attracts a small but intrigued audience. Once the guards have left, Brian tries to put the episode behind him, but he has unintentionally inspired a movement. He grows when he finds that some people are starting to follow him around, with the slightest unusual occurrence being hailed as a miracle. Their responses grow in intensity and intensity, making it harder and harder for them to get away from them, and yet, because of the excitement over the ‘miracles’ they discover, they eventually end up completely ignoring Brian himself. Judith is the only one who does not leave; Brian and Judith then spend the night together. In the morning, Brian, completely Call naked, opens the curtains to discover year Enormous crowd outside His mother’s house qui Proclaims _him_ to be the Messiah . Brian’s mother protests, telling the crowd That “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy” and, “There’s no Messiah in here. There’s a mess, all right, but no Messiah. “All of her attempts to disperse the crowd are over, even more Brian, they are unable to change their minds. They immediately seize upon everything he says and does as points of doctrine.

The hapless Brian is unable to escape his unwanted ‘disciples’; even his mother’s house is surrounded by an enormous, enraptured crowd. They fling their afflicted bodies at him, demanding miracle cures and divine secrets. After sneaking out the back, Brian is then finally captured and scheduled to be crucified . Meanwhile, yet another huge crowd has gathered outside the palace. Pontius Pilate (together with the visiting Biggus Dickus) tries to make the feeling of revolution by granting them a pardoned. The crowd, however, shouts out names containing the letter “r”, mocking Pilate’s rhotacisticspeech impediment. Eventually, Judith appears in the crowd and calls for the release of Brian, which the crowd echoes since the name also contains an “r”. Pilate agrees to “welease Bwian”.

His order is eventually relayed to the guards, but in a scene that parodies the climax of the film Spartacus , various crucified people claim to be “Brian of Nazareth” and the wrong man is released. Various other opportunities for a reprieve for Brian are denied, one by one, his “allies” (including Judith and his mother) step forward to explain why they are leaving the “noble freedom fighter” hanging in the hot sun. Hope is renewed when a crack suicide squad from the “Judean People’s Front” to charge towards the Romans, but rather than fighting to release Brian or the other prisoners, they commit mass suicideas a political protest. Condemned to a long and painful death, Brian finds his spirits lifted by his fellow sufferers, who break into song with ” Always Look on the Bright Side of Life .” [7]


  • Graham Chapman and Brian, Biggus Dickus, 2nd wise man
  • John Cleese as Reg, High Priest, Centurion of the Yard, Deadly Dirk, Arthur, 1st wise man
  • Terry Gilliam and Another person further forward (at Mount – “Do you hear that? Blessed are the Greek!”), Blood and Thunder Prophet, Geoffrey, Gaoler, Frank
  • Eric Idle as Mr Cheeky, Stan / Loretta, Harry the Haggler, Culprit woman who casts first stone, Intensely dull youth, Otto, Gaoler’s assistant, Mr Frisbee III
  • Terry Jones as Brian Cohen’s mother (Mandy), Colin, Simon the Holy Man, Saintly passer-by
  • Michael Palin as Mr Big-Nose, Francis, Mrs A, Ex-leper, Ben, Pontius Pilate , Boring Prophet, Eddie, Nisus Wettus, 3rd wise man
  • Terence Bayler as Gregory
  • Carol Cleveland as Mrs. Gregory
  • Kenneth Colley as Jesus Christ
  • Neil Innes as A Weedy Samaritan
  • John Young as Matthias
  • Gwen Taylor as Mrs. Big-Nose
  • Sue Jones-Davies as Judith Iscariot

Several characters remain unnamed during the film but they are used in the soundtrack album track listing and elsewhere. There is no mention in the film of the fact that Eric Idle’s ever-cheerful joker is called ‘Mr Cheeky’, or that the Roman guard played by Michael Palin is named ‘Nisus Wettus’.

Spike Milligan plays a prophet, ignored because his acolytes are chasing after Brian. By coincidence he was visiting his old World War I battlefields in Tunisia where the film was being made. The Pythons were alerted to this one morning and he was promptly included in the scene that just happened to be filmed. He disappeared again in the afternoon before he could be included in any of the publicity shots for the film. [8]


There are various stories about the origins of Life of Brian . Shortly after the release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Eric Idle flippantly suggested that the title of the Pythons’ forthcoming feature would be Jesus Christ – Lust for Glory (a play on the UK title for the 1970 American movie Patton ) . [9] This article is not yet published, despite the fact that it does not have anything to do with the subject of a third film any consideration. However, they shared a distrust of organized religion, and after witnessing the critically acclaimed Holy Grail ‘s huge financial turnover, confirming an appetite among the fans for more cinematic endeavors, they began to seriously consider a movie lampooning the New Testament era in the same way that Holy Grail had lampooned Arthurian legend . All they needed was an idea for a plot. Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, while promoting the Holy Grail in Amsterdam , had come up with a sketch in which However, after an early brainstorminginternship, and despite being non-believers, they agreed that Jesus was “definitely a good guy” and found nothing to mock in his actual teachings: “He’s not particularly funny, what he’s saying is not mockable, it’s very decent stuff,” said Idle later. [9] After settling on the name Brian for their new protagonist, one idea considered that of “the 13th disciple”. [9] The focus would eventually be on the other side of the world, which would be mistaken for the Messiah, but had no desire to be followed.

Writing began in December 1976, with a first draft completed by mid-1977. The final pre-production draft was prepared in January 1978, following “a concentrated two-week writing and water-skiing period in Barbados “. [11] The film would not have been made without Python fan training Beatle George Harrison , who set up HandMade Movies to help fund it at a cost of £ 3 million. Harrison put up the money for it as he “wanted to see the movie” (this was later described by Terry Jones as the “world’s most expensive cinema ticket” [12] ). The original backers, EMI Films , especially Bernard Delfont .[9] The very last words in the film are: “I said to him, ‘Bernie, they’ll never make their money back on this one'”, teasing Delfont for his lack of faith in the project. Terry Gilliam later said, “They pulled out on the Thursday.The crew was supposed to be leaving on the Saturday. [13] As a reward for His help, Harrison appears in a cameo appearance as Mr. Papadopoulos, “owner of the Mount,” Who Briefly shakes hands with Brian in a crowd szene (at 1:09 in the film). His one word of dialogue (a cheery but out of place) Scouse “‘ullo”) had to be dubbed in later.

Terry Jones was fully responsible for directing, having amicably agreed with Gilliam (who co-directed Holy Grail ) that Jones’ approach to film-making was better suited to Python’s general performing style. citation needed ] Holy Grail ‘ s production had been stilted by their differences behind the camera. Gilliam again contributed two animated sequences and took charge of set design . However, this does not have an absolute end to their feuding. On the DVD commentary, Gilliam expresses pride in a particular set, the main hall of Pilate’s fortress, which had been designed so that it looked like an old Judean temple that the Romans had made by dumping their structural artifacts (such as marble floors and columns) on top. He reveals his consternation at Jones for not paying attention to it in cinematography . Gilliam also worked on the mattePaintings, useful for a particular view of the world, and a look at the image of the world. Perhaps the most significant contribution from Gilliam was the scene in which Brian accidentally leaps off a high building and lands inside a starship to engage in an interstellar war. This was done “in camera” using a hand-built model starship and miniature pyrotechnics, released by Star Wars . Afterwards, George Lucas puts Terry Gilliam in San Francisco and praised him for his work.

The Film Was shot on location in Monastir, Tunisia , qui la production allowed to reuse sets from Franco Zeffirelli ‘s Jesus of Nazareth (1977). [14] The Tunisian shoot was published by Iain Johnstone for his BBC film The Pythons . Many locals were employed on the life of Brian . Director Jones noted, “They were all very familiar because they had worked for Franco Zeffirelli on Jesus of Nazareth , so I had these elderly Tunisians telling me, ‘Well, Mr Zeffirelli would not have done it like that, you know. ‘” [13] Further location shooting took place in Sousse(Jerusalem outer walls and gateway), Carthage (Roman amphitheater) and Matmata, Tunisia (Sermon on the Mount and Crucifixion). [15] Graham Chapman, suffering from alcoholism, was so determined to play the lead role – at one point coveted by Cleese – that he dried out in time for filming, so much so that he also acted as the doctor. [8] Following shooting between 16 September and 12 November 1978, [2] has two-hour rough cut of the film was put together for its first private showing in January 1979. Over the next few months Life of Brian was re-edited re-screened a number of times for different preview audiences,§ Lost scenes below). [9]

Religious satire and blasphemy accusations

Author Richard Webster comments in A Brief History of Blasphemy (1990) that “internalised censorship played a significant role in the handling” of Monty Python’s Life of Brian. In his view, “As a satire on religion, this film may well be considered a rather slight production., As blasphemy it was, even in its original version, extremely mild. The BBC and ITV, which has fallen out of favor. for fear of offending Christians in the UK “Once again a blasphemy was restrained – or its circulation effectively curtailed – not by force of law by the internalisation of this law.” [16] On its initial release in the UK, the film was banned by several town councils- some of which had no cinemas within their boundaries, or had not even seen the film. A member of the Harrogate Council , one of those who had been filmed during the filming of the film, and had their view of the film by the Nationwide Festival of Light , a grouping with an evangelical Christian base, of which they knew nothing. [8]

Some bans continued into the 21st century. In 2008, Torbay Council finally became a member of the French Riviera International Comedy Film Festival. [17] In 2009, it was announced that a thirty-year-old film of the film in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth had finally been lifted, and the subsequent showing was attended by Terry Jones and Michael Palin’s late mayor Sue Jones-Davies ( who portrayed Judith Iscariot in the film). [18] [19] However, before the showing, at Aberystwyth UniversityIt was reported that it was shown in 1981. [20] [21] In 2013, a German official in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia considered the film to be possible offensive to Christians and thus subject to a local regulation prohibiting its public screening on Good Friday , despite protests by local atheists. [22] [23]

In New York (the film’s release in the US preceded British distribution), screenings were picked by both rabbis and nuns (“Nuns with banners!” Observed Michael Palin). [10] It was also banned for eight years in Ireland and for a year in Norway (it was marketed in Sweden as “The film so funny that it was banned in Norway”). [24] During the film’s theatrical run in Finland, a text explaining that the film was a parody of Hollywood historical epics was added to the opening credits. [25]

In the UK, Mary Whitehouse , and other traditional Christians, pamphleteered and picketed locations where the local cinema was screened the film, a campaign that was felt to have boosted publicity . [26] Leaflets arguing against the film’s representation of the New Testament (for example, suggesting that the Wise Men would not have approached the wrong stable in the opening of the film) were documented in Robert Hewison’s book Monty Python: The Case Against .

One of the most controversial scenes was the movie’s ending: Brian’s Crucifixion. Many Christian protesters said it was mocking Jesus’ suffering by turning it into a “Jolly Boys Outing” (such as when Cheeky turns to Brian and says, “See, not so bad you’re up!”), Capped by Brian’s fellow sufferers suddenly bursting into song. This is also reinforced by the fact that the film claims that crucifixion is not as bad as it seems, when Brian asks his cellmate in prison, “Oh, you’ll probably get away with crucifixion “, and when Matthias, the old man who works with the PFJ, dismisses crucifixion as” a doddle “and says being stabbed would be worse. The director, Terry Jones, responded to this comment: “[8] Religious figures [ who? ] Later by Saying That Responded Jones Did not sccm To Understand the meaning of the symbol gold crucifix icts significance to Christians as a reminder of the Suffering and death Christ endured for Their sake. citation needed ] The Pythons also argued that crucifixion was a standard form of execution in ancient times. [27]

The Pythons prided themselves on the depths of the historical research they had taken before writing the script. They all believe that, as a result, the film portrays 1st-century Judea more accurate than actual Biblical epics, with its focus on the average person. quote needed ]

Shortly after the film was released, Cleese and Palin in debate on the BBC2 discussion program Friday Night, Saturday Morning with Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood , the Bishop of Southwark , who can forward arguments against the film. Muggeridge and the Bishop, it was later claimed, had arrived 15 minutes late to see a picture of the picture prior to the debate, missing the establishing scenes demonstrating that Brian and Jesus were two different characters, and hence up of Christ himself. [10]Both Pythons have a strange role in reversing the way they do things, while they are trying to make things look good, well-researched. They also expressed disappointment in Muggeridge, whom he had previously respected as a satirist (he had recently converted to Christianity after meeting Mother Teresa and experiencing what he described as a miracle). “Palin commented that,” He was just being Muggeridge, preferring to have a very strong opinion about it. ” [10] Muggeridge’s verdict on the movie was such a thing that it could not possibly destroy anyone’s genuine faith. ”

The Pythons unanimously deny that they were ever out to destroy people’s faith. On the DVD commentary audio , They contend que la movie is heretical Because It Lampoons the Practices of Modern Organized religion, it does not aim That blasphemously lampoon The God that Christians and Jews worship. When Jesus does APPEAR in the film (on the Mount, speaking the Beatitudes ), he is played straight (by actor Kenneth Colley ) and portrayed with respect. The music and lighting make it clear that there is a genuine auraaround him. The comedy begins when members of the crowd mishear his statements of peace, love and tolerance (“I think he said, ‘blessed are the cheese makers'”). Importantly, it is distinct from the character of Brian, which is also evident in the scene where an annoying and ungrateful ex- leper weighs Brian for money, while he has lost his source of income in the begging trade. (referring to Jesus as a “bloody do-gooder”).

James Crossley, HOWEVER, HAS argued que le Film Makes the distinction entre Jesus and the character of Brian to make a contrast entre les traditional Christ of Both faith and cinema and the historical figure of Jesus in critical scholarship and how critical scholars-have argued That ideas later got attributed to Jesus by his followers. Crossley points out that the film uses a number of potentially controversial scholarly theories about Jesus but with reference to Brian, such as the Messianic Secret , the Jewishness of Jesus, Jesus the revolutionary, and having a single mother. [28]

Not all the Pythons agree on the definition of the movie’s tone. There Was a brief exchange That occurred When the surviving members reunited in Aspen, Colorado, in 1998. citation needed ] In the section Where Life of Brian is Discussed, Terry Jones says, “I think the movie is heretical, goal it’s not blasphemous . ” Eric Idle can be heard to concur, adding, “It’s a heresy.” However, John Cleese, disagreeing, counters, “I do not think it’s heresy.” It’s making fun of the way that misunderstand people teaching. ” Jones responds, “Of course it’s a heresy, John! It’s attacking the Church! And that has to be heretical.” Cleese replies, “No, it’s not attacking the Church, necessarily.

In a later interview, Jones said the film is not blasphemous because it is heretical, because it touches on dogma and the interpretation of belief, rather than belief itself. [29]

The film continues to cause controversy; in February 2007, the Church of St Thomas the Martyr in Newcastle upon Tyne , with organ-screening, stewards in costume and false beards for female members of the audience (alluding to an early scene where a group of women disguise themselves as men so they are able to take part in a stoning). Although the screening was a sell-out, some Christian groups, notably the conservative Christian Voice , were highly critical of the decision to allow the screening to go ahead. Stephen Green, the head of Christian Voice, insisted that “You do not promote Christ to the community by taking the mick out of him.” The Reverend Jonathan Adams, one of the church’s clergy, defended his taste in comedy, saying that it did not mock Jesus, and that it raised important issues about hypocrisy and stupidity that can affect religion. [30] Again on the movie’s DVD commentary, Cleese also spoke up for religious people who have come forward and congratulated him and his colleagues on the film’s highlighting of dual standards among purported followers of their own faith. [10]

Political satire

The film pokes fun and revolutionary groups and 1970s British left-wing politics . “What the film does is place modern stereotypes in a historical setting, which enables it to indulge in a number of sharp digs, particularly at trade unionists and guerrilla organizations”. [31] The groups in the film oppose the Roman occupation of Judea , but fall into the familiar pattern of intense competition among factions that appear, to an outsider, to be over ideological distinctions so small to be invisible, thus portraying the phenomenon of the narcissism of small differences . [32]Michael Palin says that the various separatist movements have been modeled on “modern resistance groups, all with obscure acronyms which they can never remember and their conflicting agendas”. [33]

The People’s Front of Judea, composed of the Pythons’ characters, harangues their “rivals” with cries of “splitters” and stands vehemently opposed to the Judean People’s Front, the Campaign for a Free Galilee , and the Judean Popular People’s Front (the last composed of a single old man, [34] mocking the size of real revolutionary Trotskyistfactions). The infighting among revolutionary organizations is most dramatically when the PFJ attempts to kidnap Pontius Pilate’s wife, but encounters agents of the Campaign for a Free Galilee, and the two factions begin a violent brawl over which of them conceived of the plan first. When Brian exhorts them to fight their struggle against the common enemy, “The Judeans People’s Front!” However, they soon resume their battles, with two Roman legionaries watching bemusedly, continuing until Brian is left the only survivor, at which point he is captured.

Other scenes have the freedom fighters wasting time in debate, with one of the debating items being that they should not waste their time debating so much. There is also a famous scene in which he gives a revolutionary speech asking, “What have the Romans ever done for us?” catholic occupation , sanitation , medicine, education, wine, public order , irrigation , roads, fresh water system, public health and peace, followed by “what have the Romans ever done for us except sanitation, medicine, education …”. Python biographer George Perry notes, “The People’s Liberation Front of Judge Conducting Its Meetings”, “They Have Been Agreed by a Group of Shop Stewards “. [35]

Lost scenes

A number of scenes were cut during the editing process. Five deleted scenes , a total of 13 minutes, including the controversial “Otto”, were first made available in 1997 on the Criterion Laserdisc Collection . [36] An unknown amount of raw footage was destroyed in 1998 by the company that bought Handmade Films. However, a number of them have been shown to the following year on the Paramount Comedy Channel in the UK; it has been made known where these scenes were saved or where they came from; possibly the source was the Criterion laserdisc. quote needed ]The scenes shown included three shepherds discussing the future of Jesus’ birth, which would have been at the very beginning of the film; a segment showing the attempted kidnap of Pilate’s Wife, whose escape results in a fistfight; szene Introducing a hardline Zionist Otto, leader of the Judean People’s Front (played by Eric Idle) and his men Who Practice a suicide run in the courtyard; and a brief scene in which Judith releases some birds in the air in an attempt to summon help. The shepherds’ scene has badly distorted sound, and the kidnap scene has poor color quality. [37] The same scenes that were on the Laserdisc Criterion can now be found on theCriterion DVD Collection .

The most controversial cuts were the scenes involving Otto, initially a recurring character, who had a thin Adolf Hitler mustache and spoke with a German accent, shouting accusations of “racial impurity” and people whose designs were similar to Brian’s (Roman centurion rape of native Judean women), and other Nazi sentences. The logo of the Judean People’s Front, designed by Terry Gilliam, [38] was a Star of David with a small line added to each point so it resembled a swastika , most familiar in the West as the symbol of the anti-Semitic Nazi movement . The rest of this faction also had the same thin whiskers, and wore a spike on their helmet, similar to those on Imperial German helmets. The official reason for the cutting was that Otto’s dialogue slowed down the narrative. However, Gilliam, writing in The Pythons Autobiography by The Pythons , said he thought it should have stayed, saying “Listen, we’ve alienated the Christians, let’s get the Jews now”. Idle himself was uncomfortable with the character; “It’s essentially a savage attack on rabid Zionism, suggesting it’s akin to Nazism, which is a bit strong to take, but certainly a point of view.” [10] Michael Palin’s personal diary entries from the period when various edits of Brianwere being tested-screened consistently with reference to the Pythons ‘and filmmakers’ being concerned that the Otto scenes were slowing down the story and thus were top of the list of the final cut of the film. [15] However, Oxford Brookes University historian David Nash says the removal of the scene represented “a form of self-censorship” and the Otto sequence “which involved a character representative of extreme forms of Zionism ” was cut “in the interests of smoothing the way for the film’s distribution in America. ” [39]

The only scene with Otto that remains in the film is during the crucifixion sequence. Otto arrives with his “crack suicide squad”, sending the Roman soldiers fleeing in terror. Instead of doing anything useful, they “attack” by committing mass suicide in front of the cross (“Zat showed ’em, huh?” Says the dying Otto, to which Brian despondently replies “You silly sods!”), Ending Brian’s hope of rescue (they do show some signs of life during the famous rendition of ” Always Look on the Bright Side of Life ” when they are seen in their unison in time to the music). Terry Jones ounce MENTIONED que le only reason this excerpt Was not cut too Was due to continuityreasons, their dead bodies were prominently placed throughout the rest of the scene. He admits that some of the humor of this book is still missing, but they were necessary to the overall pacing.

Otto ‘s scenes, and those with Pilate’ s wife, were cut from the movie after the script had gone to the publishers, and they can be found in the published version of the script. Also present is a scene where Brian has led the Fifth Legion to the headquarters of the People’s Front of Judea, Reg ( John Cleese ) says “You cunt !! You stupid, bird-brained, flat-headed …” [ 40] The profanity was overdubbed to “you klutz” before the movie was released. Cleese approved of this editing as he felt the reaction to the four-letter word “get in the way of the comedy”. [10]

An early listing of the sequence of sketches reprinted in Monty Python: The Case Against by Robert Hewison reveals that the film was made to begin with a set of sketches at an English public school. Much of this material Was first printed in the MONTYPYTHONSCRAPBOOK That accompagné the original script publication of The Life of Brian And Then subsequently reused. The song ” All Things Dull and Ugly ” and the parody scripture reading “Martyrdom of St. Victor” were performed on Monty’s Python’s Contractual Obligation Album (1980). The idea of ​​a violent rugby match between school and small boys was filmed in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life(1983). A sketch about a boy who dies at school appeared on the unreleased The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album (1981).

Box office

For the original British and Australian releases, Away From It All , was shown before the movie itself. It is mostly about comments and comments from Cleese. For instance, a shot of Bulgarian girls in ceremonial dresses is accompanied by the comment “Hard to believe, is not it, that these simple folk are dedicated to the destruction of Western civilization?”, Communist Bulgaria being a member of the Warsaw Pact at the time. Not only is this a spoof of travelogues per se , it was a protest against the then common practice in Britain.

Life of Brian opened on 17 August 1979 in five North American theaters and grossed US $ 140,034 ($ 28,007 per screen) in its opening weekend. Its total gross was $ 19,398,164. It was the highest grossing British film in North America that year. Released on 8 November 1979 in the UK, [41] the film was the fourth highest-grossing film in Britain in 1979.

On April 30, 2004, Life of Brian Was re-released it five North American screens to “cash in” (as Terry Jones put it) [24] on the box office success of Mel Gibson ‘s The Passion of the Christ . It grossed $ 26,376 ($ 5,275 per screen) in its opening weekend. It ran until October 2004, playing at 28 screens at its widest point, eventually grossing $ 646,124 during its re-release. By comparison, a re-release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail earned $ 1.8 million three years earlier. A DVD of the movie was also released that year.


Main article: Monty Python Life of Brian (album)

An album was also released by Monty Python in 1979 in conjunction with the film. In addition to the ” Brian Song ” and ” Always Look on the Bright Side of Life “, it contains scenes from the film performed by Eric Idle and Graham Chapman. The album opens with a brief rendition of ” Hava Nagila ” on Scottish bagpipes. A CD version was released in 1997.


Life of Brian has always been cited as a major contender for the title “greatest comedy film of all time”, and has been named as such in polls by Total Film magazine in 2000, [42] British TV Network Channel 4 in 2006 [43] and The Guardian newspaper in 2007. [44] Rotten Tomatoes lists it as one of the best reviewed comedies, with a 96% approval rating from 44 published reviews. A 2011 poll by Time Out Magazine ranked it as the third greatest comedy movie ever made, [45] behind Airplane! and This is Spinal Tap .

The BFI declared Life of Brian to be the 28th best British film of all time, in their counterpart of the original AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list. It was the seventh highest ranking comedy on this list ( Ealing Films ). [46] Another Channel 4 poll in 2001 named it the 23rd greatest movie of all time (the only comedy That cam Higher on this occasion Was Billy Wilder ‘s Some Like It Hot , qui Was Official 5th). [47]

The line, “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”, Spoken by Brian’s mother Mandy to the crowd, the funniest line in film history. [48] This poll also featured two of the film’s other famous lines (“What’s the Romans ever done for us?” And “I’m Brian and so’s my wife”) in the top 10.


Spin-offs include a script-book The Life of Brian of Nazareth , which was printed back-to-back with MONTYPYTHONSCRAPBOOK as a single book. The printing of this book also caused problems, due to rarely used laws in the United Kingdom against blasphemy, dictating what can not be written about religion. The publisher refused to print both halves of the book, and the original prints were by two companies. [49]

An album of the songs in Monty Python ‘s Life of Brian was released on the Disky label. “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” was later re-released with great success, after being sung by British football fans. Its popularity became truly evident in 1982 during the Falklands War when sailors aboard the destroyer HMS Sheffield , severely damaged in an Argentinean Exocet missile attack on May 4, started singing it while awaiting rescue. [50] [51] Many people have come to see the song as a life-affirming ode to optimism . One of its most famous renditions by the dignitaries of Manchester’s to host the 2000 Olympic Games , just after they were awarded to Sydney. Idle later performed the song as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony . “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is also featured in Eric Idle’s Spamalot , a musical Broadway based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail , and was sung by the rest of the Monty Python group at Graham Chapman’s memorial service at the Monty Python Live At Aspen special. The song is a staple at Iron Maiden concerts, where the recording is played after the finale again.

Julian Doyle, the movie’s editor, wrote The Life of Brian / Jesus , a book which not only describes the filmmaking and editing process but argues that it is the most accurate Biblical film ever made. In October 2008, a memoir by Kim “Howard” Titled titled Monty Python’s Tunisian Holiday: My Life with Brian was released. Johnson became friendly with the Pythons during the filming of Life of Brian and his notes and memories of the behind-the-scenes filming and make-up. [52]


With the success of Eric Idle’s musical retelling of Monty Python and the Holy Grail , called Spamalot , Idle announced that he would be giving Life of Brian a similar treatment. The oratorio , called Not the Messiah , was commissioned to be part of the festival called Luminato in Toronto in June 2007, and was written by Idle and John Du Prez , who also worked with Idle on Spamalot . Not the Messiah is a spoof of Handel ‘s Messiah . It runs approximately 50 minutes, and is conducted at its world premiere byToronto Symphony Orchestra music director Peter Oundjian , who is Idle’s cousin. [53] Not the Messiah received its first premiere at the Caramoor International Music Festival in Katonah , New York. Oundjian and Idle joined forces once again for a double performance of the oratorio in July 2007. [54]

Appearances in other media

In October 2011, BBC Four premiered the made-for-television comedy film Holy Flying Circus , written by Tony Roche and directed by Owen Harris. The “Pythonesque” movie explored the events surrounding the 1979 television debate we talk show Friday Night, Saturday Morning entre John Cleese and Michael Palin and Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood , Then Bishop of Southwark . [55]

In a Not the Nine O’Clock News skit, a bishop who has made a scandalous film called The Life of Christ is hauled over the coals by a representative of the “Church of Python”, claiming that the film is an attack on “Our Lord, John Cleese “and on the members of Python, who, in the sketch, are the objects of Britain’s true religious faith. This is a parody of the infamous Friday Night, Saturday morning program, broadcast a week previously. The director of the movie (played by Rowan Atkinson ) claims that the reaction to the film has surprised him, as he “did not expect the Spanish Inquisition .”

John Williams of Chicago’s Radio host WGN 720 AM has used ” Always Look on the Bright Side of Life ” in a segment of his Friday shows. The segment is used to highlight the events of the past week . In the 1997 Oscar-winning film As Good As It Gets , the misanthropic character played by Jack Nicholson sings “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” as the character of change in attitude. [56]

A BBC history series What the Romans Did for Us , written and presented by Adam Hart-Davis and first broadcast in 2000, takes its title from John Cleese’s rhetorical question “What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?” in one of the movie’s scenes. (Cleese himself parodied this line in a 1986 BBC advert defending the Television License Fee : “What has the BBC ever given us?”) [57]

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair in his Prime Minister’s Questions of 3 May 2006 “Judean People’s Front” or “People’s Front of Judea”, lampooned in Life of Brian . [58] [59] This was in response to a question from the MP David Clelland , asking “What has the Labor government ever done for us?” John Cleese’s “What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?”

On New Year’s Day 2007, and again on New Year’s Eve, UK TV station Channel 4 dedicated year Entire evening to the Monty Python phenomenon, During qui year hour-long documentary Was broadcast called Expired The Secret Life of Brian about the making of The Life of Brian and the controversy that was caused by its release. The Pythons featured in the documentary and reflected upon the events that surrounded the film. This was followed by a screening of the film itself. [8] The documentary (in a slightly extended form) DVD re-release – the “Immaculate Edition”, also the first Python release on Blu-ray .

Most recently, in June 2014 King’s College London, UK, hosted an academic conference [60] on the film, in which externally and externally texts, and how can the film be used creatively within modern scholarship on the Historical Jesus . In a panel discussion [61] including Terry Jones and Richard Burridge , John Cleese described the event as “the most interesting thing to come out of Monty Python”. The papers from the conference have been edited by Joan E. Taylor , the conference organizer,Jesus and Brian: Exploring the Historical Jesus and His Times by Monty Python’s Life of Brian , published by Bloomsbury in 2015. [62]

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