Monty Python’s Life of Brian is the most prescient movie ever made, predicting exactly in 1979 the cultural madness you see around you today.
Despite that, the flick was wrongly derided four decades ago by the very people who might find it gob-smackingly funny today.
Life of Brian was vigorously protested during its U.S. release by various groups who believed — apparently without having seen the movie — that it was anti-Christian.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There are only two appearances by Jesus in the movie, one of which is off-screen. The first is the night of Jesus’ birth (Brian’s, too) and what little we see is true to the Bible.
Well, except for the part where the Three Wise Men first tried to deliver their gifts to baby Brian in the manger next door.
In the other scene, years later, we briefly see Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount. No mockery is made of Jesus or His message.
Of all the jokes, gags, and barbs thrown in every direction, Jesus is the only figure shown respect. Monty Python trouper Eric Idle later said of Jesus, “What he’s saying isn’t mockable, it’s very decent stuff.”
For a non-believing, take-no-prisoners comedian like Idle, that’s practically a whole-hearted endorsement.
Instead, the film — Python’s only real film, the others were basically collections of sketches, even Holy Grail — is anti-authoritarian, anti-fanaticism, anti-nihilism, and anti-humorless prigs.
Life of Brian is, however, very pro-funny.
The Pythons even saved their sharpest barbs for political extremists and self-deluded lefties.
Case in point on that last observation: The classic Collessium conversation between the would-be revolutionaries of the Judean People’s Front.
Or was that the People’s Front of Judea?
Regardless, take two minutes (clip below!) to bask in the comedic good sense that would get the cast and entire production crew canceled in our times.
The postmodern Left should probably cancel everyone who laughed at this scene, just to be safe.
Anyway, point-by-point, Monty Python satirically dissected the then-nascent cultural trends that have since come to dominate not only our culture, but also our politics and even our private lives.
Enjoy… although I will admit that re-watching this today, the laughs were a bit more bitter than they were when I first watched Life of Brian nearly 40 years ago.
Here’s the clip, a handy transcript, and then an exit question.
JUDITH: I do feel, Reg, that any Anti-Imperialist group like ours must reflect such a divergence of interests within its power base.
REG: Agreed. Francis?
FRANCIS: Yeah. I think Judith’s point of view is very valid, Reg, provided the Movement never forgets that it is the inalienable right of every man–
STAN: Or woman.
FRANCIS: Or woman… to rid himself–
STAN: Or herself.
FRANCIS: Or herself.
FRANCIS: Thank you, brother.
STAN: Or sister.
FRANCIS: Or sister. Where was I?
REG: I think you’d finished.
FRANCIS: Oh. Right.
REG: Furthermore, it is the birthright of every man–
STAN: Or woman.
REG: Why don’t you shut up about women, Stan. You’re putting us off.
STAN: Women have a perfect right to play a part in our movement, Reg.
FRANCIS: Why are you always on about women, Stan?
STAN: I want to be one.
STAN: I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me ‘Loretta’.
LORETTA: It’s my right as a man.
JUDITH: Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?
LORETTA: I want to have babies.
REG: You want to have babies?!
LORETTA: It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.
REG: But… you can’t have babies.
LORETTA: Don’t you oppress me.
REG: I’m not oppressing you, Stan. You haven’t got a womb! Where’s the fetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!
JUDITH: Here! I– I’ve got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can’t actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans’, but that he can have the right to have babies.
FRANCIS: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.
REG: What’s the point?
REG: What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?!
FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.
REG: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.
I just watched it twice. Maybe you want to, too. That last line was practically brain bleach for everything we’ve witnessed the last few years.
Exit Question: Did the Python boys — or girls — miss forecasting anything, aside from our current obsession with made-up and farcical personal pronouns?