For a long time I would have said that Monty Python’s Life of Brian is both the best of the Monty Python films, and the funniest film ever made. Having watched it back to back with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, however, I may have to adjust this opinion slightly. While I still think that Life of Brian is the better film, it doesn’t match the rate of jokes that the earlier film manages, opting instead for things like plot and characters.
The film tells the story of Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman), born on the same day as Jesus in a nearby stable. Growing up under Roman occupation into a somewhat idealistic young man, Brian attends the Sermon on the Mount where he notices Judith (Sue Jones-Davies, who went on to become Mayor of Aberystwyth in 2008 and who lifted the town’s ban on the film).
Judith is a strikingly attractive rebel and Brian’s hormones prompt him to join the People’s Front of Judea, one of the many independence movements striving to free Judea of both the Romans, and each other. After a series of increasingly outrageous misadventures, Brian unintentionally starts a religious movement and is hailed as the Messiah.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian is a much more directly satirical film than Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the film’s targets are much more clear-cut. Having watched the UK Labour Party tear itself apart in the 1980s, and then again more recently with the rise and demise of Corbynism over the past few years, the factionalism and infighting among the various popular and people’s fronts of Judea is still as insightful, funny and relevant as ever.
As for Brian’s followers, the sort of people who will blindly latch onto any religion and then fight over random interpretations… They’re the same as the political fanatics, aren’t they?
Over the years, I have encountered a few people who have told me that they refuse to see this film because someone else told them it’s blasphemous. This always strikes me as a pity because these are the people who most need to watch — and think about — this film.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian is a remarkable film. Beneath the broad silliness and often juvenile humour is an intelligent commentary on power, fanaticism, and all those that seek to rewrite history for their own benefit.
It’s also an incredibly funny film. While this film doesn’t have as many jokes as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it does have plenty, many of which are much funnier and some of which left me breathless from laughing.
I still think Monty Python’s Life of Brian is the best of the Monty Python films and, off the top of my head, I can’t think of any film that is funnier. If you haven’t already seen it, you should rectify this. Immediately.