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Deep criticism of society using subtle, intelligent comedy
on October 12, 2003
No doubt the Monty Python group is one of the funniest tv-shows and movie-makers of all time. Their straight-faced, intelligent kind of humor is so everlasting that today, roughly 25 years after their three main movies were made, they still have a huge legion of worldwide fans, and among them very young people, some of them born after their movies were released.
In "Life of Brian", the setting is Judea, around 33 A.D. The movie is about Brian, a jewish man-boy, raised by a tough mother; Brian's life is seemingly meaningless, until he joins a hilarious group whose main task is to go against Roman domination. Suddenly, and unwillingly, Brian has an enormous set of followers that, based on strange omens, think he is the Messiah.
From beginning to end, "Life of Brian" is much more than just a bunch of nonsense scenes revolving around a common base-point. Of course, the characters are made and chosen to fit the Python actors, but that doesn't mean the acting is bad. John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Jones (among many others) are still active and very much well-known today or in recent years - 007 series, "A fish called Wanda", etc.
But "Life of Brian", more than a simple comedy, is a tremendous criticism of the society we live in. It is not blasphemous in any way. Countries and societies that have banned this movie on religious grounds completely missed the point. This is not about religion, it's about people's relationships. To criticize globalization, lack of individualism and misguided leaderships (if they were able to see the problem then, what can we say about nowadays, when it's even worse?) they took as an example the christian societies and religious movements because, being westerners, and making a movie mainly for western audiences, they thought this would be more simple to achieve their goal. Well, in the end it was proved they were really ahead of their time. Even today "Life of Brian" is not completely understood, and mistaken as a religious parody.
Congratulations for the Pythons, on the subject choice and on the intelligence with which the movie was made.