Subject: Bournemouth allowed to see “Life of Brian” 35 years late
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Sunday, 8 November 2015 02:10:29 +0000
To: Oliver Kemp, Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp (includes video clip)
Friday Night, Saturday Morning (9 November 1979) (youtube; 1:06:19)
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (film, youtube; 1:57:39)

Sometimes, life is so funny that it is difficult to keep a straight face.

Monty Python’s Life of Brian is possibly one of the funniest films that you have never seen. It was funded by George Harrison (the serious Beatle), made in Morocco & first shown in Britain in 1979. Yesterday (6 November 2015) Bournemouth councillors finally allowed a public showing of this AA-rated film for the first time at the 19-seat The Bournemouth Colosseum.

Life of Brian is the story of a man born in a stable next door to--and at the same time as--Jesus Christ, and subsequently mistaken for the Messiah (Brian’s mother goes to the window at that point in the film and--having just discovered her boy in bed with a naked woman--shouts to the crowds waiting below: “He’s not the Messiah. He’s just a very naughty boy.”). The film takes the story of Christ utterly seriously & never at any point belittles Him, His story nor His message. In fact, quite the reverse. Of course, none of that made the slightest difference to a Legion of critics who, without ever having watched the film, decided that it was blasphemous.

The link at top includes a 4 minute clip from Friday Night, Saturday Morning, a discussion programme aired on the BBC on 9 November 1979 between two of the Pythons (John Cleese & Michael Palin), Malcolm Muggeridge (journalist, satirist, catholic convert & “serially incontinent groper”) and Mervyn Stockwood (the egotistical Anglican Bishop of Southwark, who appeared on the show in full Bishop’s regalia) and chaired by Tim Rice. Muggeridge & the Bishop were fantastically patronising, smug & aggressive whilst the Pythons displayed every Christian virtue of consideration & balance. Only after the discussion was finished & the programme ended did the Pythons discover that neither of the other two men had seen the beginning of the film (in which Brian’s connection with & distinction from Christ is made clear). Muggeridge & Stockwood had been having ‘a very nice lunch’ & thus arrived 15 minutes late. None of that stopped them from declaiming upon the film.

A film about Christ that was humorous? Blasphemy! Councils throughout Britain took fright at the time & either banned it outright, or increased it’s British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) rating from ‘AA’ (minimum age limit for entry to the film of 14) to ‘X’ (min age of 18). Meanwhile, the distributors for Life of Brian said that it could only be shown in areas where it maintained the BBFC AA rating. The combination of these two decisions effectively banned it at a great many towns throughout Britain. The reaction in America mirrored that in Britain.

Alex Kemp