The Python team succeeds in doing something which very few people can do.
What's more, it makes it look easy. One moment they are making a very
clever joke, which takes a lot of understanding, which makes many
references to culture and history, and which makes a very good point, and
the next joke in the script is "Shut up, Big Nose!" All the way through,
this pattern is repeated, and all the way through, both kinds of joke are
The pace never lets up, and it moves from one excellent sequence to
another, each one advancing the plot (with the probable exception of the
bit with the space ship). Along the way, one sees several classic moments
which have since been much copied. Where were they first? In this film.
"What have the Romans ever given us?", "Splitter!", "Alms for an ex-leper!"
- if you don't see this film, then you will be missing out on some
important popular culture.
The cast is excellent, and each of the Python team plays several roles,
sometimes even having to do reaction shots to shots of themselves playing
other parts. This sort of ensemble casting is sadly rare in films, being a
sort of theatrical ploy, and yet in this film it feels entirely natural.
The film looks very good. In fact, it is probably the most visually
convincing depiction of life in a biblical city I have seen. The Python
team is made up of educated men, and these went to some effort to see that
the costumes and sets, and atmosphere were up to scratch. This re-enforces
the comedy, and greatly re-enforces the profound elements of the film.
There is a central message to this film, summed up in Brian's hilarious and
desperate speech to the multitude which has gathered ("'Popped by'? Swarmed
by, more like!") outside his window. It is that people should not follow
religions like blind sheep, but should think for themselves. Few more
worthwhile and sound messages could be preached by anyone. Don't take my
word for it, though, decide for yourself.
Along the way, many other points are made, each highlighting the
petty-mindedness of humans. This film comes highly recommended for viewing
by the young. It could be a good influence on them, I hope, and can make
them only more reasonable and tolerant adults, assuming that they don't die
young of an excess of laughing.
There are only two films which always leave me wanting to see them again
immediately: Gregory's Girl, and Life of Brian. As soon as the end credits
roll, I have the strong urge to rewind the tape and see it all again.
"And there shall be a Man... and he shall lose his hammer, and think that's
very odd, because he could remember exactly where he put it only the night
before... about eight o'clock." That's the sort of prophet I like.