EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|LIFE OF BRIAN (director: Terry Jones; screenwriters: Terry Jones/Graham Chapman/Michael Palin/John Cleese/Eric Idle/Terry Gilliam; cinematographer: Peter Biziou; editor: Julian Doyle; music: Geoffrey Burgon; cast: Terry Jones (Mandy Cohen/Simon), Graham Chapman (Brian/First Wise Man/Biggus Dickus), Michael Palin (Francis/Pontius Pilate/Ben/Ex-Leper/Second Wise Man/Mr. Big Nose/Nisus Wettus/Boring Prophet), John Cleese (Reg/Third Wise Man/Stoning Official/Centurion), Eric Idle (Stan/Harry the Haggler/Mr. Cheeky/Jailer and his assistant/Mr. Frisbee Illrd), Terry Gilliam (Jailer/Blood and Thunder prophet), Kenneth Colley (Jesus), Carol Cleveland (Mrs. Gregory), Sue Jones-Davies (Judith), Neil Innes (A Weedy Samaritan), Spike Milligan (Spike), George Harrison (Mr. Papadopolous), Charles McKeown (Blind Man/False Prophet); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producer: John Goldstone; The Criterion Collection; 1979)|
|"It's a Mel Brooks kind of Jewish
joke film made by gentiles."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Silly, provocative and irreverent spoof on uptight
religious attitudes by those with closed minds and those in the crowd
who want to believe that they can be saved by God's miracles even if
there's no evidence of that. Daring enough (though hardly vulgarian
enough!) for the
farce to be condemned by the uptight Catholic groups as "blasphemy, groups in the Bible Belt
as "a disgraceful assault,"
and by the Rabbinical Alliance of
America for being "foul and disgusting." Thereby insulting
the three major organized religions in America and Great Britain. It's
a Mel Brooks kind of Jewish joke film made by gentiles. Many critics
consider it the gold standard of the Monty Python series. Director
Terry Jones ("Erik the Viking"/"The Wind in the Willows"/"Monty Python
and the Holy Grail") keeps it
hopping along at a rapid pace as a
one-joke satire on organized religion and, either its idea or
Hollywood's, of the crucifixion
and of life in Jerusalem A.D. 33.
The Three Wise Men go to the
wrong manger and Brian of Nazareth becomes the mistaken reluctant
Christ. As an adult Brian attends Christ's Sermon on the Mount, the
unruly audience can't quite hear the talk because of the noise and
mistakenly thinks Christ says "Blessed are the
cheesemakers." Later a mob follows Brian Cohen around, mistakenly
thinking he's the Messiah. Brian's despicable shrewish mom shouts at
"He's not the Messiah! He's a very naughty boy."
After Brian joins
an anti-Roman political organization and paints the palace wall with
anti-Roman graffiti it leads to a series of coincidences and mistaken
notions, as the film reaches its climax with the crucifixion of Brian
as the reluctant Messiah. During the crucifixion Eric Idle sings the cheery tune "Always Look on the
Bright Side of Life," while
Brian sings in the chorus with the other victims nailed to the cross.
The Pythons play many parts
and all take part in writing the screenplay. It was shot in Tunis.
REVIEWED ON 10/13/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ