Friday, 31 March 2017

Life of Brian (1979)

Fig 1 - Life of Brian Poster
Directed by Terry Jones, Life of Brian follows the story of the titular character (Graham Chapman) from birth to crucifixion, in a tale which closely parallels that of the Messiah. Jesus was in fact born just next door to Brian and lives within the background of his timeline. However, after some time Brian begins to amass an unwanted following who believe him to be the son of God, and thus winds up completely miserable in his failed attempts to convince them otherwise.

Life of Brian is the third of four feature-lengths in the filmography of the comedy troupe 'Monty Python', and the second that I have now seen for myself. That being the case, I only have Monty Python and the Holy Grail to compare it to, which is a film I believe to be much less cohesive in the 'traditional' sense and a lot more silly in terms of it's content. That said, Life of Brian's style of comedy still feels completely 'Python-esque' in it's absurdity and banter-ful dialogue. However, the film plays out with a much more tenacious and consistent narrative than Holy Grail, which often relies on surrealism and fourth-wall breaking interludes for it's laughs. Life of Brian also works on the level of a religious satire, mocking themes of celebrity and worship in a way that proved entirely controversial upon it's release.

Fig 2 - Life of Brian - Brian and his Mother
I found the film's central parallels with the story of Christ to be profoundly entertaining and refreshing in it's approach that I did not feel to be overtly blasphemous or provocative. Incidentally, nobody here is poking fun at Jesus, who appears only at the beginning of the film, mounted upon a rock giving a perfectly innocent sermon. It may be a light-hearted jab at Christians perhaps, but not Jesus.

Terry Jones (who co-directed Holy Grail) manages to capture the spectacle of a biblical epic whilst keeping the tone light and whimsical, making Life of Brian one of the most beautifully shot comedies I've ever come across. In addition, the opening animations by Terry Gilliam were particularly impressive accompanied by the Bond-esque theme 'Brian Song' performed by Sonia Jones. The song really elevated what could have been a run-of-the-mill sequence and prepares the audience for a chuckle with it's innocuous lyrics as an ode to the perfectly average 'Brian'.

Overall it is clear to see why Life of Brian lives in infamy among the best of the genre. It challenges themes of evangelicalism, sexism and even trans-genderism, all whilst delivering some damn fine comedy.


Fig. 1 Life of Brian Poster (1979) From: Life of Brian - Directed by: Terry Jones

Fig. 2 Life of Brian Screenshot (1979) From: Life of Brian - Directed by: Terry Jones

No comments:

Post a Comment