Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
Brian is born on the original Christmas, in the stable next door. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.
Often regarded as the best feature film of the Monty Python troupe, Life of Brian has been condemned for blasphemy in many countries. Mistakenly represented as a parody of the life of Jesus Christ, Life of Brian is set during the same time and location but it is more or less a depiction of the time and the absurd logic of Monty Python in developing simple situations and indulging them with a twist that makes the whole simply hilarious.
Some of the sets and decors of Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth were reused, since it was shot one year earlier and the producers of both films were brothers. Many technical aspects of Life of Brian are excellent when we think that Terry Jones directed alone and Terry Gilliam let his co-direction (they both directed The Holy Grail) to work on the artistic aspects of the film.
The regular gang of Monty Python is present and Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, and many others were part of the cast. As usual, the cast does multiple parts and even if some aren’t that much equal in quality, while others are pretty efficient.
Overall, Life of Brian holds well together and even if some scenes lack in laughs the ratio is excellent. Some viewers might find its humor too old school and the most common issue is the fact that the humor is too British to be fully enjoyed. As a good public for absurd jokes, I found myself laughing very hard at many moments during the projection. It is probably one of the greatest comedies and definitely Monty Python’s better offering.
Last but not least, a cinephile like me should not underestimate the fact that the picture is part of the very select Criterion Collection. The quintessence of movie addicted junkies, it is a title that is worth acquiring considering being only the third comedy added to the collection when it was released. Recommended.