Life of Brian
dir. Jones
Opens Fri July 9
Cinema 21

As a born-again atheist/recovering Catholic, my mother loved Monty Python. Every Christmas we watched The Holy Grail, and every Easter, the whole family gathered to view Life of Brian. At a very young age, I was taught that sacrilege was funny stuff, and Monty Python were its patron saints. The Pythons' lampooning of Christianity was quite revolutionary for 1979, and it's fitting that they would theatrically re-release Brian as a sort of anti-Passion of the Christ, once again leading the revolt against suffocating Christian dogma. But having seen Life of Brian at least 10 times prior (but not for at least five years), I wondered if the film would still ring true to my atheist ears. Well, my brothers and sisters, I am here to testify that Brian still has many things to say.

Set in the time of Jesus--at just about teatime--the story follows Brian of Nazareth, a Jew who is mistaken for the Messiah but is actually, as his mother puts it, "a very naughty boy." When Brian learns his father was a member of the occupying Roman force, he joins the revolution against them, and after he's called upon to make the first strike against the Romans, he's asked to lead the Peoples' Front of Judea in kidnapping Pontius Pilate's wife. During the operation, Brian is captured and condemned to crucifixion, and the whole thing ends with a huge musical number performed entirely on crosses.

The film is one of the greatest religious satires of all time, with moments of hilarious double-talk and Python's trademark absurdity and physical comedy. But what really makes Life of Brian special is that it's a great piece of film--complete with fantastic cinematography, awe-inspiring locations, and a real eye for replicating classic, big-budget religious epics. Plus, the newly re-mastered print is flawless--so even if you've seen Brian countless times, seeing it on the big screen with an audience proves to be a truly religious experience.