Life of Brian

Obviously “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” isn’t a particular favorite of the church. Some have called it blasphemous. Others have called it sacrilegious. I believe it’s neither.


lifeofbrianIf you can’t have a good laugh at something as old and stuffy as religion, then there is not point in living. I’m not overly religious, but I do pray each night before I go to bed. Why? Because God, in all his wisdom, has given me a sense of humor and the freedom to enjoy films like “Life of Brian.” The film is my third favorite Monty Python project. First at bat is “The Meaning of Life,” yet another film that took religion to task and won. Second in line is “Monty Python & The Holy Grail.” While all three films are nothing more than a series of sketches sewn together with an almost invisible thread of a plot, the sheer audacity of the Python troupe makes the sketches some of the funniest stuff you will ever see. For instance, who can forget the over-the- top sword fight in “The Holy Grail” that finds the Black Knight limbless, yet still willing to fight for his honor. Or my favorite scene of all time in “The Meaning of Life” that includes both projectile vomiting and a rather nasty explosion. These are images that stay with you. There are numerous scenes in “The Life of Brian” that are classic comedy. The plot is the most pedestrian thing about the film, which finds three wise men bestowing gifts and praise on the new born Brian until they realize their mistake, take back their gifts, and visit the manger down the way. Life doesn’t get much better for Brian (Graham Chapman) and his mother (Terry Jones), always following the shadow of you know who. Through a series of mishaps involving the Romans and some terrorists, Brian finds himself chosen as the new Messiah. It is a role Brian would just as soon not play, but the more he protests, the more followers he picks up. The parallels between the Life of Christ and that of Brian are comically similar, but there’s little reverence here. The Python troupe (Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Jones, and Michael Palin) take no prisoners as they try to debunk some of the solemnity associated with the religion of the time. They even have the audacity to have Brian accidentally switch places with Jesus and end up on the cross in his place. At least the crucifixion ends with the up-beat song, “The Bright Side of Life.” It’s a cute little ditty, one that will surely rankle anyone with a stiff collar. The jokes come fast and furious in “Life of Brian,” so it’s always a pleasure to be able to watch it again. My favorite bits? A public stoning where women are prohibited, yet the audience is obviously made up of women in fake beards. I also liked the gag where the terrorists try to hide when the Roman soldiers invade their hideout. It’s so stupid it is funny. The Python troupe play numerous roles, including most of the women, but that is what makes the film so appealing. The film is like one rowdy Fraternity play. There are a lot of surprises in the film (including an alien spaceship), too many to mention. They are best left for you to discover, or rediscover.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ X ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

The overall visual quality of “The Life of Brian” is something of a quagmire. There are moments when the picture is absolutely stunning, with pure, rich colors and sharp detail. Other times, the film has a flat, grainy look. It’s hard to tell where a less than stellar negative left off and a poor digital transfer took over. I’d be willing to bet that it is more of a original negative problem than a transfer one, because most of the images hold up quite well. Even the blacks, which try hard to fade but are pretty much kept in check. The colors are good but not spectacular, with excellent saturation. Flesh tones are a little spotty, but I suspect that’s the nature of the beast. There are some definite flaws on the original negative, which seem amplified on the DVD. The widescreen transfer (1.85:1) won’t win any awards, but it’s not such a loss to have to write it off.

HEARING: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is pretty effective, although some of the dialogue is low and hard to hear. I found myself cranking up the middle speaker just to hear some of the lines. Not much in the way of ambient noise, and the stereo split is functional but not distinctive. The opening title tune sounds great, while the rest of the soundtrack gets the job done.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ ] Good [ X ] Poor

No closed captions or subtitles.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

The original theatrical trailer, talent bios and handsome yet standard issue main and scene access menus.

PROGNOSIS: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

Despite the somewhat grainy picture, you can’t help but look at the bright side of life with this irreverent comedy from the Python troupe.

VITALS: $24.98/Rated R/93 Minutes/Color/31 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#DV10674

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN

BIRTH DATE: 1979

HMO: Anchor Bay Entertainment



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