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  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincenzo
    It was originally banned here in Cornwall too. I remember the collective WHOOP at the Camelot Cinema during the early 80's when it was announced that the film would finally be shown the following week (as part of a double bill with Airplane).



    Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me was shown at the Plaza in Truro with a huge white banner covering the word 'shagged', despite the full title being displayed on the showing times board.
    Ah, the Camelot cinema in Newquay, now an Australian themed bar I believe?



    I remember back in 1980 (or possibly 1981) when 'Life of Brian' received its premiere in Penzance and having to go and see it at Demelza's nightclub (AKA the Winter Gardens).

  2. #82
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    What did 'Life of Brian' ever do for us?

    Monty Python's 1979 film, �Life of Brian�, is rightly considered a comedy classic. But, thirty years on, it wouldn�t be made today, argues Sanjeev Bhaskar.



    It is 30 years since Monty Python gave us Life of Brian. For those few who are unaware of it (perhaps too young, or recently emerged from a coma), this is the story of an ordinary chap called Brian Cohen who is constantly mistaken for being the long-awaited Messiah. His misfortune is that he is born at the same time as � and in the next stable to � Jesus Christ.



    Although the Pythons intended the film to be a satire on blind faith and organised religion, they could not have imagined the extent of the furore it would cause on its release. A campaign condemning the film on the grounds of blasphemy � led by Mary Whitehouse and the Christian values organisation, The Festival of Light � resulted in the film being banned in parts of Britain and the whole of Ireland and Norway. In the US, meanwhile, protesters gathered outside cinemas.



    However, 30 years on, that same film is regularly touted as the funniest British comedy of all time, and is now quoted by everyone from politicians (Tony Blair in his 2004 Labour party conference speech referenced the �What have the Romans ever done for us?� scene) to the bishop who told me he is always reciting lines from the film to his friends.



    I first tried to watch the film on a pirated VHS at a friend�s house in late 1979; it turned out to be quite a bizarre experience. The picture and sound quality were terrible, and the diabetic friend had a sudden drop in blood sugar and kicked us all out after about 20 minutes. But I�d seen enough to know that I wanted to see the rest. So I borrowed a copy from someone else, and became hooked. I remain utterly hooked to this day.



    The origin of Life of Brian was typically Python. After the success of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the group were inundated by questions about their next project. On a promotional trip to Paris, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam got legless, and Idle said the title for their next film should be �Jesus Christ � Lust for Glory�. This tickled the collective Python funny bone and they started looking into a potential comedy about Christ.



    �I was originally against doing a biblical film because I thought the costumes would be so boring,� says Terry Jones. But the group recognised the kernel of something interesting and started researching the subject. However, as Jones points out, they all realised that �Christ was a very good bloke, saying a lot of very good things that we all agreed with. Humour wasn�t in Christ at all.�



    The team flew to Barbados for a working holiday. They kept office hours, enjoyed the sun and entertained guests including Keith Moon, Mick Jagger and, er, Des O�Connor, who popped round to play charades. After two weeks, they had a draft screenplay.



    Mindful of the potentially incendiary content, they sent the script to a canon at St George�s Chapel at Windsor Castle. He agreed that the script was not blasphemous and said that it was �extracting the maximum comedy out of false religion and religious illusions�. He even suggested adding the now-celebrated scene in which someone is stoned to death for being blasphemous.



    EMI was to finance the film, but days before production was due to start, the CEO, Lord Delfont, finally read the script and got cold feet. The script was then rejected by every major movie studio before Idle and producer John Goldstone turned to former Beatle George Harrison, who quickly secured the required $4 million.



    With a solid script and the parts cast (Graham Chapman took the title role, after the others talked Cleese out of playing it), production finally began in Tunisia, with Jones as director. It was, by all accounts, a happy shoot, although there were classic Pythonesque moments. Jones recalls directing a scene while dressed as a hermit when Michael Palin said: �Do you realise that you�re stark naked?� Indeed, all Jones had to cover his modesty was a long beard.



    It was decided that the controversial final scene in which Brian is crucified should end with a song, for which Idle wrote the now classic Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.



    But was the scene fun to shoot? Idle laughs: �Being Python, there were about 30 people being crucified but only three ladders. So, if anyone wanted to relieve himself between takes, you got, �Over here quickly, please � I�ve got to get down!��



    The film premiered in America in August 1979 and immediately caused a brouhaha. The Rabbinical Alliance declared the film �foul, disgusting and blasphemous�. The Lutheran Council described it as �profane parody�. Not to be outdone, the Catholic Film Monitoring Office made it a sin even to see the film. Audiences, however, loved it, making Brian the most successful British movie in North America that year.



    To counter the mounting protests in Britain, an ingenious advertising campaign was launched featuring the mothers of John Cleese and Terry Gilliam. Muriel Cleese said that if the film didn�t do well, and as her son was on a percentage, she may very well be evicted from her nice retirement home � and that the move might kill her. She won an award for the ad.



    Mary Whitehouse failed to prove that the film was blasphemous, particularly since Christ and Brian are distinctly shown as different people. Nevertheless, a number of local councils banned it � including some that didn�t even have a cinema. The result was coach parties being organised in places such as Cornwall (where it was banned) to cinemas in Exeter (where it wasn�t). The Swedish marketed the film as �so funny it was banned in Norway�.



    Time can be rather harsh on comedies, but Life of Brian holds up very well after 30 years, and still has the power to shock. However, current tastes and sensitivities make it highly unlikely that a comedy group would even attempt making a film like Brian today.



    That said, the film�s view of blind faith seems as apposite as ever, and the closing song has come to represent a sort of British resilience � laughing in the face of adversity. It has been appropriated by football fans, chosen as the final song at funerals, and, movingly, during the Falklands War, the sailors on the damaged HMS Sheffield sang it while awaiting rescue. Like many others, I chose it as one of my Desert Island Discs.



    One of my favourite off-screen anecdotes is related by Eric Idle about the cameo appearance by Spike Milligan, who happened to be holidaying in the area where Brian was being shot. After improvising his lines, they realised that Spike had disappeared � still in costume. Much later, on the way back to the hotel, they spotted Spike, who had been pulled over by the police. One of the actors leapt from the bus to exclaim: �It�s all right � he�s with us.� The only problem was the actor was still dressed as a centurion.

  3. #83
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Life of Brian: facts and figures
    More than 30 years after Monty Python gave us Life of Brian, the film continues to be seen as a cult comedy classic. Here are some of the more interesting facts and figures behind the 1979 hit.

    By Sarah Rainey


    1. The idea for Life of Brian came about on a promotional trip to Paris, when Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam flippantly decided that their next film should be called "Jesus Christ - Lust for Glory". The other Pythons were enthused by the working title and set about looking into a comedy about religion.

    2. The film was financed by former Beatle George Harrison, who put up the required $4m after producer John Goldstone turned to him just days before filming was due to start. To thank him for his help, Harrison was given a brief cameo as Mr Papadopoulos, owner of the Mount, who shakes hands with Brian in a crowd scene.

    3. Fawlty Towers star John Cleese was originally cast in the title role of Brian, but he was talked out of it by the other Pythons. Brian Cohen was eventually played by Cleese's close friend Graham Chapman.

    4. Mindful of the potentially blasphemous nature of the script, the Pythons sent it to a canon at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle for review. The canon agreed that it was not blasphemous, but was "extracting the maximum comedy out of false religion and religious illusions".

    5. Life of Brian was a huge box office success, grossing fourth-highest in the UK and becoming the most popular British film in the United States in 1979. It has since been named the "greatest comedy film of all time" by several magazines and television shows.

    6. Thirty-nine local authorities in the UK imposed restrictions on the film when it was released, with an outright ban in Ireland and Norway. Not to be deterred, the Pythons used such notoriety in their marketing campaign, with slogans including: "So funny it was banned in Norway".

    7. Religious institutions took the ban even further, with the Catholic Film Monitoring Office deeming it a "sin" to see the film. The Rabbinical Alliance said it was "foul, disgusting and blasphemous", while the Lutheral Film Council described it as a "profane parody".

    8. Spike Milligan's cameo in the film was completely unplanned. By chance, he was visiting the old World War Two battlefields in Monastir, Tunisia, where Life of Brian was being made, and was invited to join the scene that was currently being filmed. After playing a prophet, Milligan disappeared off set and could not be found for later scenes or promotional shots.

    9. A number of scenes that were cut from the movie were lost in 1998 when they were destroyed by the group that brought Handmade Films, the original production company. The most controversial cuts involved Otto, a character with a thin black moustache and a German accent, who was accused of having Nazi tendencies.

    10. Some of the best scenes from Life of Brian have made it into music videos (Anika's 'Yang Yang'), computer games (Terry Pratchett's Discworld II) and even political speeches - former Prime Minister Tony Blair made reference to the film during PMQs in the House of Commons in 2006.

    Here are three of the most memorable moments from Life of Brian:

    - The miracle: After spending the night with Judith, Brian wakes up to find hoardes of people outside his mother's house, proclaiming him to be Jesus Christ. Then comes the iconic line from his mother Mandy, played by Terry Jones: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy."

    - The prophets: The three bickering prophets - Blood and Thunder Prophet, False Prophet and Boring Prophet - perform an excellent parody of conflicting religious dogmas. Michael Palin, quoting from the book of Cyril, decrees: "At this time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o'clock."

    - The crucifixion: Moments after Pilate agrees to "welease" Brian, others around him claim to be 'Brian of Nazareth', in a wonderful parody of the climax of Spartacus. As the others are released and Brian is condemned to a long and painful death, the crowd breaks into a rendition of "Always look on the bright side of life".

  4. #84
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7 View Post
    6. Thirty-nine local authorities in the UK imposed restrictions on the film when it was released, with an outright ban in Ireland and Norway. Not to be deterred, the Pythons used such notoriety in their marketing campaign, with slogans including: "So funny it was banned in Norway".
    One of the local authorities that banned it was Aberystwyth. They finally lifted the ban in 2009 after Sue Jones-Davies was elected mayor of the town. Sue played Brian's girlfriend, Judith, in the film. It's not often that a town mayor has been seen naked on screen

    Steve

  5. #85
    Senior Member Country: UK Brett Sinclair's Avatar
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    WOW...this really shocks me, especially on this site that has some pretty revered film goers; did any of you ever watch any episodes of Flying Circus?

    IMO Life of Brian is to Monty Python what Carry on Columbus is to Carry On. Not a patch on Holy Grail, which (again IMO) is the definitive MP film and far more truthful to the whole MP comic philosophy of WTF!
    In Life of Brian, production values were all 'Hollywood' and most of the gags, although based around the one 'big gag' of mistaken identity were rehashes of old material. A bit of a dichotomy really; a wholly original concept but put together with wholly unoriginal material. Hated the film and have only seen it twice, as a girlfriend had not seen it and I thought I'd get brownie points if I took her to see it (my second viewing).

    Thank Brian (yawn) that at least one or two of you have the good sense to agree with me.

    Flame On!


  6. #86
    Senior Member Country: UK Brett Sinclair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomDaws View Post
    Am I alone in this ? - loved them on TV but when I saw Brian again recently I laughed only once or twice.
    See above Tom...you are not alone!

  7. #87
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    Funny - I find I can watch Brian and Grail much more than the original series these days. Have copies of all of them though plus Meaning of Life, ANFSCD, Hollywood Bowl (which I don't like), German shows ... what really makes me laugh now from all these? Not that much really as I can probably recite most sketches in full without thinking.

  8. #88
    Senior Member Country: UK Brett Sinclair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by didi-5 View Post
    Funny - I find I can watch Brian and Grail much more than the original series these days. Have copies of all of them though plus Meaning of Life, ANFSCD, Hollywood Bowl (which I don't like), German shows ... what really makes me laugh now from all these? Not that much really as I can probably recite most sketches in full without thinking.
    LOL...don't get me started on Meaning of Life

  9. #89
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    Always preferred Grail for sheer sillyness. But Brian is a great satire.

  10. #90
    Senior Member Country: Ireland jimw1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by didi-5 View Post
    Funny - I find I can watch Brian and Grail much more than the original series these days. Have copies of all of them though plus Meaning of Life, ANFSCD, Hollywood Bowl (which I don't like), German shows ... what really makes me laugh now from all these? Not that much really as I can probably recite most sketches in full without thinking.
    I agree didi' some of the Sketches seem very dated these days' although a few have stood the test of Time'
    I Think the Real die Hard Python Fans (of which I include myself ) would say The Holy Grail film Captured the pythons at their peak.
    The life of Brian was More popular as it appealed to a wider Audience' (The Subject matter alone meant it was always going to get much more attention)
    I would guess some of the Audience that liked TLOB would not particularly like The Holy Grail' Presumptuous of me perhaps....

    I think a lot of the Humour in the latter was on a Different level .......

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvKIWjnEPNY

  11. #91
    Senior Member Country: UK Brett Sinclair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimw1 View Post
    The Holy Grail film Captured the pythons at their peak.
    The life of Brian was More popular as it appealed to a wider Audience' (The Subject matter alone meant it was always going to get much more attention)
    I would guess some of the Audience that liked TLOB would not particularly like The Holy Grail' Presumptuous of me perhaps....

    I think a lot of the Humour in the latter was on a Different level .......

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvKIWjnEPNY
    I agree, plus a lot had changed in the cinema industry and with the film going public between 1974 and 1979

  12. #92
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett Sinclair View Post
    IMO Life of Brian is to Monty Python what Carry on Columbus is to Carry On. Not a patch on Holy Grail, which (again IMO) is the definitive MP film and far more truthful to the whole MP comic philosophy of WTF!
    Just for you, BBC4 are showing Life of Brian on Saturday at 9pm

    Steve

  13. #93
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett Sinclair View Post
    LOL...don't get me started on Meaning of Life
    It's interesting that in 'Almost The Truth' Terry G claims it is their best film because the great bits are balanced out by all the crap :)

  14. #94
    Senior Member Country: UK Brett Sinclair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by didi-5 View Post
    It's interesting that in 'Almost The Truth' Terry G claims it is their best film because the great bits are balanced out by all the crap :)
    I have a feeling that Terry G is probably the only one who could possibly say that his fim making has evolved (Brazil is an especially wonderful dark comic fantasy...but it aint Monty Python), and as such by the time they made The Meaning of life, he was pleased that the production values were indeed so much more polished than those evident in 1974 with Holy Grail. However, for me, the whole point is that Monty Python humour was wholly in the same vein as Goons/Q5+ and didn't really have to make any sense or be any better than the sum of all its' disjointed parts. A lot of the humour comes from the whole WTF are they doing now rather than a funny story well told. Probably why I prefer ANFSCD and Holy Grail.

  15. #95
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    True - only Terry G has really gone beyond what Python could have ever achieved (and has done it by still appearing to be a giggling imbecile LOL). Can you imagine John Cleese or Terry Jones directing an opera?!

    You are right Brett that the two early Python films are closer to the anarchic spirit of 'what on earth are they doing NOW?'

  16. #96
    Senior Member Country: UK Brett Sinclair's Avatar
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    Sorry, I know I'm going off at a tangent, but humour me if you can. I recently saw the re-runs of the Ripping Yarns series and found them to be sadly lacking in the chuckles that they had originally garnered back in the late 70s. I can only put this down to there now being an obvious lack of Chapman, Cleese and Gilliam.

    Oh, and thanks Steve for the heads up on Life of Brian. I may just watch again just to test myself

  17. #97
    Senior Member Country: Ireland jimw1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett Sinclair View Post
    Sorry, I know I'm going off at a tangent, but humour me if you can. I recently saw the re-runs of the Ripping Yarns series and found them to be sadly lacking in the chuckles that they had originally garnered back in the late 70s. I can only put this down to there now being an obvious lack of Chapman, Cleese and Gilliam.

    Oh, and thanks Steve for the heads up on Life of Brian. I may just watch again just to test myself
    Indeed Brett I find most of the Ripping Yarns series a tad dated and Lacking... but I still Enjoy The Testing of Eric Olthwaite

  18. #98
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brett Sinclair View Post
    See above Tom...you are not alone!
    Not alone at all. It has a big following here. I hated it.

    Smugness and sickeningly self-conscious "aren't we daring and precocious, but don't you dare call us offensive" cuteness and nastiness that made my skin crawl - the smarmy, smirky over-grown schoolboy aspect of Python without any of the wit or the timing or the sharpness.

    And I like Monty Python.

  19. #99
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimw1 View Post
    ...
    I would guess some of the Audience that liked TLOB would not particularly like The Holy Grail' Presumptuous of me perhaps....

    I think a lot of the Humour in the latter was on a Different level .......
    Yes, Holy Grail is as funny and clever now as it was when it was made. There is more shrewd, sharp satire in the witch sequence than in all of TLOB.

    And most scenes stand on their own as well:
    "Someday son all this will be yours" "What - the curtains?"
    The black knight: "I'll bleed on you. I'm invincible!" You're a loony"
    "We are the keepers of the secret word" "We want - a shrubbery. And make it a nice one"
    And those farm animals thrown off the top of the castle. "Go away or I'll taunt you a second time"
    "A swallow carrying a coconut?" "It could grip it by the husk"

    Brilliant stuff - and the film is so well made that each scene works separately and as part of the whole.

    The end is a bit of a shambles though.
    Last edited by TimR; 21-10-11 at 06:54 AM.

  20. #100
    Senior Member Country: Spain Rowdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7 View Post
    Life of Brian: facts and figures

    3. Fawlty Towers star John Cleese was originally cast in the title role of Brian, but he was talked out of it by the other Pythons. Brian Cohen was eventually played by Cleese's close friend Graham Chapman.
    What a strange way of putting it! As if they weren't both parts of the MP team.

    Anyway: I liked LOB when it came out. I can still watch it. It doesn't make me laugh, but I no longer expect it to. Holy Grail is great, NFSCD is OK, but unnecessary if you have the TV episodes. The TV episodes themselves are FULL of great bits. The famous quotable ones are fine - some, not all, are still funny, others were just novel, but almost every episode has something that I had no memory of that actually makes me laugh out loud. Parts are unfunny, but try any box set of a TV comedy and see how many times you actually physically laugh.

    Finally, The Meaning of Life has no redeeming features. I can see that the initial idea may have seemed funny, but it is just bad sketch followed by poor sketch followed by not-fully-thought-out sketch followed by couldn't-quite-be-bothered-to-really-exploit-this sketch then back to bad sketch. Some parts are not as awful as others, perhaps, but there is no way that the good balances the bad because there is no good in it. This, by the way, is not my opinion, it's fact.

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