To celebrate Monty Python’s Life of Brian on the occasion of its 40th anniversary, the film received a limited re-release last week in theaters nationwide. Although it has been available for a while on both Criterion Collection Blu-ray disc and the Netflix streaming service, I hadn’t seen Life of Brian in a dog’s age. I attended one of last week’s anniversary screenings and received a nifty souvenir packet. Contents included a small poster, the lyrics to “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” so that I could sing along at the film’s conclusion, a sheet of stickers, a cardboard beard (useful for women who wish to attend public stonings), and a pamphlet containing an essay by Sanjeev Bhasker—“Why Monty Python’s ‘Foul, Disgusting, and Blasphemous’ Life of Brian Wouldn’t Get Made Today”—that originally appeared in the British newspaper, The Telegraph.
Are you all jealous yet?
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (an opinion I have since reversed.) I would give anything to have a copy of that review. Say, do any of my readers happen to have a spare copy of the RMHS Pacer dated August 31, 1979?
The Plot in Brief: Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman) is born in a manger right down the road from another famous manger-baby, and lives his life contemporaneously with the hero of the New Testament. Brian grows up and becomes a member of the People’s Front of Judea, a political group opposed to the Roman occupation of the Holy Land. His participation in their activities leads to his arrest and crucifixion. Because this is a comedy!
Honestly, I was moved by the sincerity and simplicity of Brian’s message: “Look, you've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody. You've got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals! […] That's the point! Don't let anyone tell you what to do! You're all different! You've all got to work it out for yourselves.”
I guess that’s the gift that political satire keeps giving; it’s forever fresh because mankind is incapable of real change. I was surprised at how much I laughed out loud—not appreciative, nostalgic chuckles but big belly laughs that bounced off the walls of the theater.
Speaking of films in English (Note to self: get better at segues), I learned by tweet of the existence of a fantastic new documentary about silent film clown Buster Keaton. The Great Buster: A Celebration, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, is currently available on Amazon Prime, but only to rent or buy.
Duck Soup, The Apartment, Dr. Strangelove, The Graduate, M*A*S*H*, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Groundhog Day, Rushmore.
What comedies would YOU add to the “beyond funny” list, Gentle Reader? I could use a good laugh.