Life of Brian

April 8, 2012

Monty Python’s Life of Brian does exactly what good satire should do; the film takes a viewpoint and exaggerates it to such an extreme that an audience cannot help but laugh.  There is no doubt that John Cleese, Eric Idle, and the other Pythons do not take the notion of organized religion very seriously.  As we discussed in class, Brian’s attempts to get the people to think for themselves are usually met with pleas for him to show them how to do just that.  This perhaps touches on what I felt was the most important aspect of the film: how dark in nature the comedy truly is.

When people hear the name Monty Python, they might first think of Flying Circus, and the ridiculous sketches that come to mind.  The ministry of Funny Walks, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Dead Parrot sketches are all classics that any fan of the Pythons is surely able to recite upon command.  Surely in the case of the Spanish Inquisition, the original subject matter for the sketch is a dark time in human history.  However, the intent of the sketch comes off as more an innocent poking fun at a situation, and made light of something that had no humor in it.  The difference in Life of Brian is that the Pythons seem to actually have an issue with religion and its hold on people.  The film comes off as more message oriented, and that message is to avoid the pitfalls of blindly subscribing to a religion.

Personally, I thought the more subtle digs at religion were more entertaining.  The sermon on the mount, where people were so far away they couldn’t hear Jesus, shows how people often misunderstand or skew the underlying thought behind a religious teaching.  It was more than just a rhyme gag.  The bit can actually have a deeper meaning if an audience is willing to look for it.  It’s possible that the Pythons had no intention of such a meaning, and sometimes these things happen as a happy accident.  The main point is that clearly through their parody and satire, the Monty Python troupe displayed their distrust of religion and the people in charge of it for everyone to see.  Without a doubt, they put a spotlight on the nature of faith, intending to show everyone just how silly it could be.

-Chris Lombardo


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