Monty Python's Life of Brian

Three wise men visit baby Brian's stable, and present him with gifts. Suddenly they return, snatching the gifts, realising they have given them to the wrong baby. Thirty years later, Brian is living with his grumpy mother, who tells him he is a Roman. He protests, and joins the People's Front of Judea, an anti-Roman revolutionary group. They send him out to write "Romans go home" on the palace wall: which he does, in very bad Latin. A passing Roman Centurion affably corrects it, and makes him write it out 100 times. Later he falls in love with Judith, one of the revolutionaries. Brian returns to the group, and joins them in a plot to kidnap Pilate's wife. In the palace, they meet a rival group doing the same thing. They all fight and kill each other, except Brian, who is arrested, and interviewed by Pilate. While the guards are laughing helplessly at the name of Pilate's friend "Biggus Dickus", Brian escapes, and finds his way back to the group. He then ends up making a speech to local people, who suddenly believe he is the Messiah. They all pursue him, but he flees, until the Romans arrest him again.

Revealing mistake: When the blind man is telling Brian he can see again and falls down in the pit, you can see the white mattress that he lands on. (01:01:10)

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Boring Prophet: There shall in that time be rumors of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia-work base, that has an attachment. At that time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer, and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o'clock.

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Trivia: When Brian wakes up after spending the night with the girl he walks down and finds loads of his followers in a cellar. He gets introduced to a guy with a deep Liverpool accent with a big bushy beard who says "'ello." This man is the late George Harrison. (01:08:45)

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Question: When Brian is about to be crucified, soldiers arrive with news of his release. The soldiers ask for Brian, and everybody shouts "I'm Brian." Is this a parody of the "I'm Spartacus" episode in the Kirk Douglas/Stanley Kubrick film of "Spartacus"? If so, would this support my feeling that Life Of Brian is primarily a parody of classical/biblical 'epic' films?

Rob Halliday

Answer: Actually, no, the primary goal of "Life of Brian" was not to parody biblical films. Terry Gilliam has stated that the "important" objective of the movie was "to offend a lot of people," particularly "Jews and Christians, because they're easy to push around." Gilliam further said that, at the same time, they were "very cautious not to offend Muslims, because they're the dangerous ones." Both Gilliam and John Cleese have also said that, while the Pythons took care to avoid blasphemy (not directly mocking Jesus of Nazareth, with whom the Pythons had no quarrel), they fully intended that the film be heretical (in defiance of Catholic Church doctrine and dogma). Make no mistake, "Life of Brian" is not supposed to be a lighthearted parody of biblical films; it's supposed to be a sharp stick in the eye to the Roman Catholic Church.

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: The scene is a parody of the scene in "Spartacus" (although they are saying "I am Brian" for completely different reasons.) However, the film is meant to be a satire on religion itself and not a parody of epic films. The Pythons did a lot of research to try and accurately portray 1st century Judea, which is why it may look like a biblical epic, but I can't recall any biblical epics they parodied. At the time it was considered blasphemous, and not a parody, and banned in several areas in the UK and some countries. Although the Pythons argued it's not blasphemy but heresy.

Bishop73

Answer: You are indeed correct. It is a parody of the "Spartacus" scene but mostly of religion.

raywest Premium member

Perhaps not so much a parody of "Spartacus" as a tribute to Stanley Kubrick. Monty Python writer Terry Gilliam was very much a fan of Kubrick films and became friends with Kubrick in the 1980s. Gilliam claimed that Kubrick had even spoken with him about making a sequel to Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" (with Gilliam as director). Chances are, the "Spartacus" allusion was part of Gilliam's contribution to the "Life of Brian" screenplay, a tip-o-the-hat to Stanley Kubrick.

Charles Austin Miller

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