A few weeks ago, I purchased a DVD of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, on sale at a local music shop. In between everything else I managed to squeeze in yesterday, I watched the movie on my home theatre system. I remember watching the film at one of the local cinemas in Durban, some time after it was released in 1979, and had forgotten all about it until I spotted the DVD on sale.
Now, I don’t exactly remember any of the controversy surrounding the film when it was released in South Africa, but given the subject matter of the film and the conservative Apartheid society of the time, I would have been very surprised had there been none. The film which portrays religion as hypocritical and fanatical, certainly did cause a consternation among the religious community in Britain and the USA when first released. If there were any protests in South Africa, on a scale equivalent to that of Britain and the USA (apparently it was banned outright for 8 years in the Republic of Ireland), I must have missed it.
But, after watching the film yesterday, I was struck by how timid the perceived blasphemy and criticism of Christianity and religion in general, really was. Oh, to be sure the portrayals were quite funny and relatively current, but compared to the scathing criticism found widely today in mediums such as the blogosphere, I thought it was quite timid. I’ll bet a film made today with the same subject matter, won’t be as accommodating to the religions of the world.
Well, I’m not overly disappointed though, since the film is regarded as a classic Monty Python feature and makes a welcome addition to my DVD collection. Anyway, the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” by Eric Idle in the film’s closing scene is one of my favourites.