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Secret Life of Brian - Comments

citizen of earth's Avatar Comment 1 by citizen of earth

One of the best movies in cinema history, (and I should know, I've followed a few)
It is the peak of python brilliance, made even better by the risks they took in portraying that theme, I am so glad they did, and am also glad that it succeeded, despite the wishes of the fundies. It also brought into the public eye the question about a particular person "was he a messiah, or a very naughty boy?"

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 15:53:00 UTC | #14669

chbg21808's Avatar Comment 2 by chbg21808

I watched 'The Life of Brian', when It was first released at the pictures (I'm showing my age). It still stands as one of my favourite films of all time... I watched it again over Christmas (is that blasphemy?). I also watched this documentary only a few days ago on TV... I'm amazed how quickly it ended up on the Internet after being shown.

The religious fundies, really do seem to lack a sense of humour. Some might argue that the individual councils that allowed the banning of this film were moderates, but to me this is the behaviour of fundies. If they believe in their God so strongly, why should they care what anyone else thinks. Question: Was the film banned by council members because of their own personal religious views or was it because of the political pressure applied by Whitehouse and her cronies? ...I suspect it was both.

As for Mary Whitehouse.... What a pain in the posterior she was. Her manic obsession with censorship was scary... How did she get so much power? Censorship rarely solves anything, it simply leads to the curtailing of individual freedom... Here is a quote from, A Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Etienne de la Boétie, written in the 16th Century:

"The oppressor has nothing more than the power you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had not cooperation from you?"

I think the above quote relates perfectly to those idiotic councillors, who haven't got the slightest inkling of the importance of freedom of speech. Once you start censoring, because you may offend a few people, where do you stop, it is a very slippery slope.

I think the quote relates to atheists too, we have been quiet for far too long. I think, if there were more secular groups within government, applying political pressure, these things would not be allowed to happen.

Blessed are the cheesemakers... tee hee! ...I love it!!!

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 15:57:00 UTC | #14670

jburdoo's Avatar Comment 3 by jburdoo

One of the things I dislike most about religion is that, in its fundamentalist form, it has NO sense of humor. A group that can't laugh at itself isn't really to be trusted, I feel.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 16:42:00 UTC | #14678

JackR's Avatar Comment 4 by JackR

jburdoo: I see little evidence of genuine humour even in moderate religion. And when it does try to be funny it usually fails as embarrassingly as when christians try to rock.

A vital element of humour is the ability and willingness to question, to look sideways at things, to puncture the pretensions of others - and ourselves. The weak sort of mind that clings to belief in the supernatural and makes it one of the most important things in its life is always going to be severely challenged in this regard.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 17:10:00 UTC | #14683

JackR's Avatar Comment 5 by JackR

"I walked away from religion around that time and thought education was better"


Sun, 07 Jan 2007 17:15:00 UTC | #14685

Jared's Avatar Comment 6 by Jared

Thank you ever so much for posting this! The fact that 'Life of Brian' is still as relevant and controversial now, if not MORESO, is somewhat chilling. As fantastic a film as it is, there's nothing I'd like more than for people to be able to see it from a more detached perspective...a perspective where 'Oh, people used to believe in that stuff?' is a more common response than 'they can't talk about my savior that way!'

I'm not sure we'll ever get to that point, but it's worth a try. Thanks for giving me something rather interesting to watch while recovering from a heinous ear infection :)

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 19:02:00 UTC | #14689

jburdoo's Avatar Comment 7 by jburdoo

Jack: How about Judaism? One saying I learned growing up as a Jew was something along the line of "Jews are the only believers who argue with God," and there is a strong tradition of deprecatory Jewish humor, as collected by, for example, Isaac Asimov and in the Chelm stories.

I agree in general, but I have met believers who can laugh at themselves. My Dad, who is pretty much Deist, cannot read through the Haggadah on Passover without breaking up at the point where four Rabbis argue over EXACTLY how many plagues God hit the Egyptians with (not ten, not fifty, not two hundred, but two hundred and fifty, in the form of God's fingers and presumably his thumb). While I grant that the important (and morally confusing) point is that God hit Egypt with any plagues at all, the Talmud is full of hair-splitting (and inadvertently side-splitting) passages like this. And while I have met Jews who take Talmud lessons seriously, I've met more with tongue in cheek, and I have NEVER met one who thought everything actually happened exactly as stated in the Bible, six days, Noah and all. There are fundamentalist Jews, but in proportion they're much fewer than the Xian ones, especially in the United States. It is even theoretically possible to be an atheist Jew. That may sound like an oxymoron, but I think of myself as Jewish more for cultural and historical than religious reasons; I'm functionally atheist.

I have not, however, found Xians about whom I could say the same thing. Either they truly believe that Christ died for their sins, or they don't think about it at all and treat the holidays as vacation time. And the gulf between Life of Brian and Passion of the Christ is yawning. I look at both films, one of which pokes fun at Xianity and the other of which treats it with utter seriousness, and I know which one I would NOT want to subject my children to. This is what they teach their kids?

Whereas Monty Python takes the mickey out of magical thinking, in scenes like the one where Brian is chased by groupies who would rather believe he's the Messiah than what he himself tells them. The lack of critical thinking is pretty obvious in this section, where the groupies spot a juniper bush and decide Brian has conjured it up just for them, and when they decide that dropping his sandal was a sign of... well, they can't decide what, and their new religion starts fracturing right there.

This might be a good movie to show and discuss at a skeptics' meeting.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 19:15:00 UTC | #14690

Zappi's Avatar Comment 8 by Zappi

Dear jburdoo,

Don't forget to place in your list the fantastic movie "Kadosh" by Amos Gitai. It depicts the judaism most Jews want to ignore.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 19:43:00 UTC | #14692

denoir's Avatar Comment 9 by denoir


The fact that 'Life of Brian' is still as relevant and controversial now, if not MORESO, is somewhat chilling.

I would say the exact opposite: I'm quite pleased how things have changed in less than 30 years exemplified by Life of Brian. At least in UK and Europe in general, there is nothing controversial about it. It is shown on more or less a regular basis on BBC. The Norwegians would not even think of banning it today etc

It seems to me that some progress has been made in the past decades. In Europe I think it is largely that a whole generation of old-school Christians are taking a nap six feet under - pining for the fjords, to use a Python expression.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 21:53:00 UTC | #14702

Quine's Avatar Comment 10 by Quine

I watch 'Life of Brian' every Easter as my official observance. I encourage all here to do the same.

Sun, 07 Jan 2007 22:50:00 UTC | #14707

bruce's Avatar Comment 11 by bruce

I've always loved Monty Python and Life of Brian is definitely one of my favorites. But after seeing this documentary, I have a new found respect for the Python guys.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 00:22:00 UTC | #14713

Ole's Avatar Comment 12 by Ole

I saw the film in 1980 here in Norway. It was a private viewing, since the film was censored. A memorable event - one of my all time favourite movies.

In 1981 it was allowed for adults (over 18), and later for everyone.

We did not have a person like Mary Whitehouse over here, but we had a paragraph against blasphemy (as you in UK) and that was what the film censors used.

Strange to think about. Today the "Zeitgeist" has moved on and I don't think a film like that would be censored. But pehaps I'm wrong - a newspaper showed the Muhammed drawings and the editor had to have a body guard.


Mon, 08 Jan 2007 01:11:00 UTC | #14715

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 13 by scottishgeologist

RE: Mary Whitehouse. Deep Purple did a brilliant lyrical attack on her (and Lord Longford) in a song called "Mary Long"

Lyrics and notes here on Ian Gillan's site:-

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 01:31:00 UTC | #14717

melisande's Avatar Comment 14 by melisande

That was great!
One of my favorite quotes and something that I remember as a sort of "epiphany" when I finally _saw_ christ on the cross for what it was and was suddenly sick to my stomach (recognizing that I had seen different depictions of it all my life and had been inured to the reality it represented):

"...any religion that makes a form of torture an icon that they worship seems to be a pretty sick sort of religion..."

Thanks so much for posting this! I never would have known or thought to look for it.

Now I want to buy the film to watch again...

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 01:53:00 UTC | #14721

Noodly's Avatar Comment 15 by Noodly

The most chilling bit is where the lawyers insisted that all the Pythons updated their wills before flying out to New York for the premiere.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 02:15:00 UTC | #14725

Jared's Avatar Comment 16 by Jared


I guess I was thinking of the States, where I'm not sure that, even now, the film could be aired on a non-cable TV station. But I take your point about the UK, things seem to have improved here. But back in my home country, there are far more Whitehouses than I'd care to think about.

I keep wanting to throw in quotes from her verse in Pink Floyd's "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" but I can't find a good place to do so!

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 02:33:00 UTC | #14726

pr126's Avatar Comment 17 by pr126

Indeed. I loved the film.
But think about doing the same treatment for the life of Mohammad. Anywhere on the planet.

If not, why not?

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 02:44:00 UTC | #14731

A-Leprechaunist's Avatar Comment 18 by A-Leprechaunist

"If not, why not?"

Out of fear, I would say. The perception is that causing offense to the muslim community is far more likely to result in revenge killings than is realistically the case with Christianity (an older religion which has had time to mellow, at least somewhat).

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 03:24:00 UTC | #14734

donmak's Avatar Comment 19 by donmak

I like Terry Gilliam's comment at 30:58 -

This is what makes me crazy, is this ability to just close. [They] say, "No don't even look at it. Don't even think about it." It's a way of keeping people ignorant, under control, and not thinking. And I think with Python - one of the things I felt we were all pretty proud of was trying to make people THINK.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 04:19:00 UTC | #14738

Logicel's Avatar Comment 20 by Logicel

I was also impressed with the energetic quality of Gilliam's comments, and came across this great video interview of him:

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 04:35:00 UTC | #14741

jbannon's Avatar Comment 21 by jbannon

Yeah, I love The Life of Brian. It really is hilarious and takes the mickey out of everyone, including the Romans. The Meaning of Life caused a bit a storm in a teacup as well, especially the lampooning of the Roman Catholics attitude towards sex and the sex education piece. Christians have absolutely no sense of humour.

With regard to Deep Purple's lampooning of Mary Whitehouse, it's OK but Pink Floyd's portrait of her on "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" is really vitriolic (as is the portrait of Margaret Thatcher on the same song).

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 04:55:00 UTC | #14743


"...any religion that makes a form of torture an icon that they worship seems to be a pretty sick sort of religion..."

Oh no,no,no, it's not about torture, it's about the message...yeah, he died for your sins and mine.

Funny, he did all these magic tricks and couldn't seem to get one person to write a decent or truthful account of any it.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 05:03:00 UTC | #14744

Andrew Charles's Avatar Comment 23 by Andrew Charles

I think it is great that we can satirise christianity. But it would be great if "secular" muslims in Islamic countries could do the same to their religion without the fear of death...

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 05:05:00 UTC | #14746

wice's Avatar Comment 24 by wice

look at the comment by Albertanator on the youtube page. it's funny that when chistians hear something, that they don't like, there's always at least one who says something along the lines: "why don't you mock muslims, you cowards?". as if doing something that leads to almost certain death is considered to be bravery instead of stupidity.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 07:08:00 UTC | #14752

SMART's Avatar Comment 25 by SMART

The movie, The Life of Brian, is the most vicious satire of religion ever made. Brilliant!

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 07:41:00 UTC | #14756

Slartibarfast's Avatar Comment 26 by Slartibarfast

A letter was written to the comedian Jasper Carrot,

"I'm sick of you mocking us Christians. Why do you never take the mickey out of Muslims?".

Jasper relied "Because they'd kill me."

Freedom of speech does not end when it offends someone. It should only end when it incites violence.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 07:53:00 UTC | #14757

Kevin Ronayne's Avatar Comment 27 by Kevin Ronayne

I agree with the comments made by people such as wice (in #16700).

Christians who complain about films being made that mock Christianity but not Islam should probably consider it something of a back-handed compliment. Much as I'd like to see someone making "The Life of Omar", I don't think it's likely to happen any time soon.

Even the 1976 film "The Message" (aka Mohammad, Messenger of God) - which followed Islamic practice in not showing Mohammed's face at any time - provoked some fierce reaction, including a mass hostage taking in Washington, D.C.:,_Messenger_of_God_(film)

In today's environment, I am willing to bet that the reaction would be more (and not less) extreme.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 08:00:00 UTC | #14758

atkinson's Avatar Comment 28 by atkinson

Is a downloadable version available? I lack the bandwidth needed for UBloodyTube.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 08:30:00 UTC | #14761


"Freedom of speech does not end when it offends someone. It should only end when it incites violence."

I am almost inclined to disagree with this statement as much as I believe that if someone can't control their behavior just because someone is speaking his/her mind, then the "bully" needs to be knocked down, not the person speaking.


Mon, 08 Jan 2007 08:39:00 UTC | #14764

John P's Avatar Comment 30 by John P

I am almost inclined to disagree with this statement as much as I believe that if someone can't control their behavior just because someone is speaking his/her mind, then the "bully" needs to be knocked down, not the person speaking.


Absolutely. I agree. If violence is where you draw the line on freedom of speech, then you effectively have no freedom to speak.

Not that I'd want to be the one upon whom the violence was inflicted, but as a society, we should resist any attempt to inhibit our freedom of speech. There is strength in numbers.

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 08:53:00 UTC | #14765