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Monty Python's Life Of Brian [VHS] [1979]

4.7 out of 5 stars 475 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle
  • Directors: Terry Jones
  • Writers: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle
  • Producers: Denis O'Brien
  • Format: VHS
  • Language: English, Latin
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: 4front
  • VHS Release Date: 14 Jun. 2004
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (475 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004RRAC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,508 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Monty Python delivers a scathing, anarchic satire of both religion and Hollywood's depiction of all things biblical with their second film. The setting is Judea 33 A.D, a time of poverty and chaos, with no shortage of messiahs, followers willing to believe in them, and exasperated Romans trying to impose some order. At the centre of it all is Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman), a reluctant would-be messiah who rises to prominence as a result of a series of absurd and truly hilarious circumstances providing ample opportunity for the entire ensemble (John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, and Chapman) to shine in multiple roles as they mock everyone and everything from ex-lepers, Pontius Pilate, and the art of haggling to crazy prophets, Roman centurions, and crucifixion.

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That rarest of rare treasures, Monty Python's Life of Brian is both achingly funny and seriously satirical without ever allowing one to overbalance the other. There is not a single joke, sight gag or one-liner that will not forever burn itself into the viewer's memory as being just as funny as it is possible to be, but, extraordinarily, almost every line and every indestructibly hilarious scene also serves a dual purpose, making this one of the most consistently sustained film satires ever made. Like all great satire, the Pythons not only attack and vilify their targets (the bigotry and hypocrisy of organised religion and politics) supremely well, they also propose an alternative: be an individual, think for yourself, don't be led by others. "You've all got to work it out for yourselves", cries Brian in a key moment. "Yes, we've all got to work it our for ourselves", the crowd reply en masse, "Tell us more". Two thousand years later, in a world still blighted by religious zealots, Brian's is still a lone voice crying in the wilderness.

Aside from being a neat spoof on the Hollywood epic, it's also almost incidentally one of the most realistic on-screen depictions of the ancient world--instead of treating their characters as posturing historical stereotypes, the Pythons realised what no sword 'n' sandal epic ever has: that people are all the same, no matter what period of history they live in. People always have and always will bicker, lie, cheat, swear, conceal cowardice with bravado (like Reg, leader of the People's Front of Judea), abuse power (like Pontius Pilate), blindly follow the latest fads and giggle at silly things ("Biggus Dickus"). In the end, Life of Brian teaches us that the only way for a despairing individual to cope in a world of idiocy and hypocrisy is to always look on the bright side of life. --Mark Walker

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
John Cleese once said that this film is what he'd most like to be remembered for, which coming from a man who wrote some of the best Python sketches and Fawlty Towers, should tell you something about how good this film is.
Hugely controversial at the time, the subject matter of 'The Life of Brian' was considered strictly taboo in 1979, and even today it can still rattle a few cages, but ultimately the Python team all shared the same conviction that they were not poking fun at religion (or Jesus) per se, but at the people who blindly follow and misunderstand. In this way, 'The Life Of Brian' became not just a comedy classic, but a ground-breaking movie that pushed the barriers of what was previously considered 'off-limits'.
Graham Chapman revels in the lead role of 'Brian of Nazareth', and the rest of the team play multiple rolls, in a very Goon Show-esque type way, with the story always revolving around Brian. The turning point comes when, in an attempt to evade the notice of the Romans, Brian pretends to be a street preacher and gathers the attention of a small crowd. Once the Romans pass by, however, he stops preaching and tries to walk away, only to find that the small crowd want to hear the rest of what he was saying. As more and more people come along to find out what is happening, his followers multiply until they are convinced that he must be some sort of messiah. They follow Brian home only to be told by his mother that "There's a mess alright, but no messiah.." (I'm paraphrasing, by the way!
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Format: DVD
Some people think this is not just one the funniest films ever made but actually the funniest film ever made. If it isn't, it is certainly the funniest satire ever made. It is undoubtedly up there with the very best and I thoroughly recommend it.

When it first came out, I remember a very po-faced commentator attempting to rip it to shreds, not realising that he was actually making a fool of himself and not the film. The Pythons with him said virtually nothing and just let him dig a hole for himself. The film was controversial and, I suppose, still is.

But a satire it is ... Life of Brian quickly established a brilliant reputation for itself and, to my mind, is undoubtedly the best thing the Monty Python team ever produced. The scenes where Brian is thought to be the new Messiah, where people follow him, where the new religion schisms into 'followers of the sandal' and 'followers of the gourd': these are pure genius. And the slapstick scenes featuring Romans with speech impediments (impedimentia?) are side-splittingly funny.

The Latin lesson ... that really brings back memories! Like much good humour, it is an exaggeration of the truth that many of us experienced. The final song 'Always look on the bright side', has become so well known that it is regularly sung at public events. And the question 'What did the Romans ever do for us ...?' has passed into common parlance, often modified, frequently used.

This film has burned itself into modern-day consciousness. If you haven't seen it, you are in for a treat. If you have, then enjoy repeated viewings. A must-have: five stars.
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Format: DVD
I have steadfastly resisted buying previous versions of this DVD, as the 'extras' are virtually non-existent. Where is the spoof travelogue that accompanied the cinema release (with John Cleese getting increasingly frustrated with the number of scenes including gondolas)? Where is the short Christmas card animation, without which the appearance of the cut-out stagecoach in the film itself makes no sense? Both of them together can't take up more than 15 minutes, so space can't be the issue.
But at last - 'a special edition' - surely this will have everything that was missing from the previous releases? And the package IS very nice - script book, postcards, film cell, sturdy box to house them in. But what's the point of good packaging if the DVD is the same? As far as I can make out, there is no difference at all, and for the first time I actually regret buying a DVD - I really should have read the small print.
The film itself, of course, is an absolute classic that everyone should see. Not only is it extremely funny, it has a serious sub-text about not just believing what you're told - with religious fundamentalism on the rise, it feels more relevant today than it did when it was first released. So just buy the cheapest version you can find - you'll enjoy it more without the nasty taste in your mouth.
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Format: DVD
There are arguably only two even slightly good movies featuring Jesus as a character; one is Pasolini's gritty and soulful "The Gospel According to Matthew", the only film to have been given awards by both the Vatican and the Italian Communist Party, and the other is "Monty Python's Life of Brian". Jesus turns up early on, played by the superb British character actor Kenneth Colley, giving a Sermon on the Mount with unparalleled sincerity - he gradually recedes from view (and gets fainter and fainter) until we are scuffling around the edge of the crowd with the eponymous Brian and his ratbag mother, who shouts "Speak up!" at the unheeding Christ. The whole film takes place here - on the edge of potentially great events, as its hero gets loaded by everyone around him with more and more burdens of significance and responsibility, just because that's the way it goes in Judea in AD 33.

It's maybe the best Python movie because it handles such dynamite material so brilliantly. So many priceless moments that can make you laugh out loud even when you're in a room on your own - like the intricate committee structure of the People's Front of Judea, or Pilate not being able to pronounce his "r"'s ("No, no. Spiwit! Bwavado! A touch of...dewwing-do!"), or the saintly passer-by who offers to shoulder the burden of a crucifixee, and finds himself being hung on the cross for his good heart. Brian's life mirrors that of Jesus not because he has ambitions in that direction, but because everyone around him (except his mother - "He's not the Messiah! He's a very naughty boy!") wants it to. This gives the film a truly satisfying narrative that none of the other Python movies managed to achieve. (While I love the "Holy Grail", I always get disappointed that it just stops, with no real ending.
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