Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” Still Banned In Wales – New Effort to Overturn Ban Begins

by on August 12, 2008 · 1 comment

in Civil Disobedience, Media, Satire

From the ‘I Just Couldn’t Resist’ Desk: “He’s not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy!” scene in famous parody could finally be seen by the Welsh if former actress gets her way

by Steffan Rhys / Western Mail (Wales) / Originally posted Jul 21 2008, but who cares?

IT FEATURED some of the most famous scenes in cinema and has been repeatedly voted the funniest film ever made. But Monty Python’s Life of Brian caused uproar when it was released, was slammed as sacrilegious and banned from cinemas across Wales.

Thirty years later, one of its Welsh stars will today begin her attempt to lift the long-standing ban in the town she presides in as mayor. Sue Jones-Davies, the mayor of Aberystwyth, rose to fame when she played the part of Judith, Brian’s girlfriend, in the 1979 film.

The film’s premise is an ordinary man, Brian Cohen, being mistaken for the Messiah in Roman-occupied Judea by hordes of people, including the Magi.

It caused outrage among Christians all over the world, who complained its content was blasphemous, and was banned in several American states, in Ireland for eight years, and by several UK town councils. The Monty Python stars have repeatedly stated Brian is not intended as a parody of Jesus, but the ban in Aberystwyth stands to this day.

The town’s Commodore Cinema is now owned by Michael Davies, whose father ran the cinema when the ban was imposed.

“As far as I know, Life of Brian is still banned from being shown at the cinema,” he said.

Ms Jones-Davies, a Plaid Cymru town councillor and yoga teacher, said she will now begin investigating the possibility of lifting the ban. The 59-year-old mother-of-three and grandmother-of-one said: “I didn’t even know the ban was in existence until Friday. It isn’t something I have been worrying about. “It is intriguing to think it is banned but I suppose these things come into place and, unless they are revoked, the ban remains.

“Maybe you can still get prosecuted for showing it. I think it has been shown in the town before but it was shown quietly.”

Ms Jones-Davies features in some of the iconic film’s most famous scenes, including when Terry Jones – as Brian’s “mother” – utters the words: “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy” to a crowd of followers inadvertently attracted by Brian. In the same scene, she appears fully nude and is described by Jones as “a Welsh tart”.

In the film’s hugely controversial finale, which features a crucifixion scene, she also tells Brian she will “never forget him” moments before Eric Idle launches into the world-famous song, Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.

“We are talking 30 years ago now and things have moved on rapidly in terms of censorship,” she said. “Then it was to do with the religious controversy rather than the nudity but you could say in respect of the religious side that it has become more controversial with it being so much to the fore.

“I think anything should be strong enough to take this sort of probing. That is my opinion and it is not shared with everybody.

“I don’t think it would harm the religious faith. I’m going to talk to my town clerk Jim Griffiths and we will be investigating.”

Ms Jones-Davies, whose eldest son Siencyn Langham is an editor for Channel Four’s hit comedy Shameless, said if the ban was to be overturned they could possibly arrange a screening and donate the proceeds to charity.

“It was quite an experience. We were out [filming] in Tunisia for two-and-a-half months and we had to adjust to a different heat and a different culture,” she said. “It was quite chaotic; the financial situation was quite dodgy for them although I wasn’t aware of that.

“It was -what is the word? – fluid. Everybody pitched in and it was great fun.

“It was wonderful to have been part of it and it has stayed with me ever since. People remember that when they forget everything else.

“It is never, ever not going to be a relevant film about people’s prejudices and bigotry.” [Here’s the link to the original article.]

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie August 15, 2008 at 11:25 am

Based on this post, Patty & I started watching my VHS copy of “Life of Brian” – probably my 4th or 5th time, but the first for Patty. Compared to modern films and even TV shows like “Deadwood” it is mild in terms of language and nudity. Although it does take religion and ancient customs (like stoning moral offenders) to task, and does poke fun at the Jesus cult. I still think parts of the movie are hilarious – altho’ Patty at times had trouble staying awake – as she usually does for movies. We didn’t finish it. We watched 3 episodes of Deadwood instead.
Poor Wales – if they only knew.

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