Sunday, March 08, 2009

Still Getting Brian Wrong

A Welsh town that banned Monty Python's film Life of Brian (1979) when it was first released will screen the movie this month for the first time. The story is even more interesting because the lead actress in that film is now the mayor of that town!

The movie was controversial and banned in several places out of simple, familiar ignorance. People who had not bothered to watch the movie assumed the movie was a spoof of Jesus Christ and his life, and they picketed and banned the movie and made whole bunch of noise about something they knew nothing about and had gotten completely wrong.

And in the story linked above, even NPR gets it wrong, describing it as "the zany British troupe's film satire of the life of Jesus and many other things sacred."

Is there some kind of conditioning in people, some sort of defense mechanism that prevents them from noticing the movie is making fun of people? Not Christ, not God the Father, but people. People who follow political or religious figures around, lionizing them and projecting impossible expectations on them -- that's what the movie is about. It isn't very subtle in making its point, either, yet people continue to miss it and crow about offending Christians.

Watch the movie. It is the story of a man named Brian who lived at the same time as Jesus. Through some farcical circumstances he becomes a political figure and is mistakenly elevated to the status of "messiah" by an ignorant mob. The Romans sentence him to execution as an unwilling martyr, as he protests to the end that it's all been a mistake.

And it has one of the most famous, and funniest, musical finales ever:

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