The comedy of blind faith

April 2, 2012

The Monty Python movie The Life of Brian presents a lot of satire.  The movie is full of different stabs at guerilla fighters, government dealings, and the following of faith, blindly.  The most interesting part is how people can blindly follow a messiah.  The story, regardless of how controversial it was, is about an average person living in Judea and facing these problems of messiahs, terrorists, and governments, which can be applied today.  The people who make Monty Python are known to pride themselves with historical accuracy, and the movie really looks at people during 33 A.D.

I emphasize that the satirical take on people’s belief in someone or something that will save them, is well achieved in this movie.  The fact that people start listening to Brian after he accidently knocks off one of the preaching people in the market is purely comical.  Brian is only interested in escaping the Roman’s capture and his only disguise to elude his pursuers is preaching.  Brian’s preaching makes no sense at first but he gradually starts to make sense in the minds of the people in the market.  They start following him after they believe his ideas are great and he leaves them a “holy” gourd that he gave up and didn’t want to haggle; there is a whole scene devoted to haggling, which pokes fun at the traditions during that time.  Brian finally escapes the Romans and then he gets preoccupied with the “followers” that he has obtained.

These followers begin to believe in anything Brian says.  There is an incident involving shoes and what the meaning is behind them.  Brian just left one shoe behind because he was in a hurry, however the people believe there is a message involved with the shoe.  Another instance is that a blind man says he can see thanks to Brian and people are ecstatic despite the fact that after that man says that he falls into a pit.  And in that pit there was a man who was practicing keeping silent for 18 years, and when Brian is fleeing from the people he gets the man to break his vow.  The man later says that thanks to Brian, he can speak again.  The crowd doesn’t recognize the sarcastic tone in the man’s voice, which causes them to say, “It’s a miracle”.  Even when Brian tells them to “fuck off”, they take it as a message of the messiah.

When Brian finds himself awake and opens his windows to a mass of people, he becomes by no choice of his own, a messiah.  He preaches that people should be individualistic and the crowd keeps responding in unison to everything he says.  The crowds seem to follow whatever everyone else believes during that time.  Even at the end of the movie, Brian is looked at by many to be a sacrifice or martyr to the cause that Brian knows very little about and there is no one willing to save him because they are content with his role to progress their movement.  The only advice that can be given is “to look on the bright side of life” (commence whistling).

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