“Life's a Piece of Shit”:
Heresy, Humanism, and
Heroism in Monty Python's
Life of Brian
Brian whimpers. He is pushed around by his mother. As a revolutionary, he is incompetent and he cannot compose a proper sentence in Latin, even one composed of just three words. Nevertheless, circumstances conspire so that he is taken to be a prophet or a messiah, revered by a multitude. He nearly inaugurates a new religion.
What exactly is Brian? And what are the Pythons trying to do in telling the story of his life? Many took this movie to be an insult to God; they saw it as blasphemy. But the Pythons were famously interested in philosophical questions, especially about the meaning of life, and if one watches the movie with this in mind, one gets a very different message.
The Question of Heresy
After the success of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Monty Python gang were not sure what to do for their next project. As a lark, one proposed the title: Jesus Christ: Lust for Glory. Apparently, the idea for a Biblical comedy was just spontaneous. Once the idea caught on, however, the troupe took their work seriously: they read the Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, try