Actors: Charles Edwards, Steve Punt, Ben Crispin
Studio: Acorn Media
DVD Release Date: September 2012
Format: Color, Widescreen
Number of discs: 2
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Run Time: 90 minutes
In 1979, Monty Python released the movie Life of Brian, a humorous look at the exploits of a man who was born on the same day as Jesus. Mistaken for Jesus by the three Wise Men, Brian had quite an interesting life. When the film debuted, it was met with wide criticism, particularly from religious groups. Holy Flying Circus is a docudrama that retells the events surrounding the movie’s controversial history.
While Life of Brian was a financial success (it was the fourth highest grossing film in the UK that year), close to 40 groups in the UK banned it or gave it an X rating. It was even banned in a few countries such as Ireland, and as such things usually do, this worked wonders for the marketing of the movie. The controversy eventually led to John Cleese and Michael Palin appearing on a BBC2 show, Friday Night, Saturday Morning, debating Mervyn Stockwood, the Bishop of Southwark and journalist Malcolm Muggeridge about the merits of the movie.
Played by a cast of characters who look remarkably like the original group (particularly Darren Boyd playing John Cleese and Charles Edwards in the role of Michael Palin), Holy Flying Circus imagines what it was like behind the scenes as the actors dealt with the fallout from their newest movie. It begins with the movie’s release and follows through to the infamous debate with Muggeridge and Stockwood.
No retelling of this story would be complete without poking “Pythonesque” fun at the various people and events. With whimsical dream sequences, men in drag (Palin’s wife is a standout in this area), animation, and even brief guest appearances by God and Jesus, the viewer can easily fall into the world of Monty Python. After a quick and funny start, the movie dragged a bit towards the middle. Fortunately, it picked up again as the debate approached. There are plenty of laughs here for true fans of Monty Python (Cleese’s “silly walk” gag even makes it on screen) and there’s no doubt by the end of the movie that the gang from Monty Python are the clear winners.
Quill says: If you love Monty Python, you should check out this DVD and get a peek at the absurdity surrounding the release of Life of Brian.