Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Removing Anti-Zionist Barbs from Monty Python's "Life of Brian"

Recently, I read somewhere that some rabbis were very unhappy with Monty Python's film, The Life of Brian, when it first came out. Indeed, according to the New York Times (Aug. 28, 1979; p. C8) several American rabbinical organizations, including the Rabbinical Allianceof American and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, "condemned" the film as "blasphemous," a "crime against religion," and "a vicious attack upon Judaism and the Bible ..."

Naturally, I wanted to watch the film again now that I have those special sunglasses that help me see things more clearly. Well, I can see what upset the rabbis but according to a post by Eric Verlo at Not My Tribe there's even more to the story.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of most of Verlo's post but I can say that it is true that "The Criterion edition of Monty Python's Life of Brian has some" deleted scenes and that those scenes do indeed appear to have their own deletions.

There is the scene that includes the first appearance of "Otto, the Nazirene" (pictured above). Verlo says that the first Otto scene appeared in the film's original theatrical release. I don't know if it appeared in the UK release but that doesn't seem to be the case for the US version. The Times published several articles on the controversy over the film but none of them mention Otto. In Blasphemy in the Christian world: a History, author David Nash says, "A sequence which involved a character representative of extreme forms of Zionism [that would be Otto] eventually was consigned to the cutting-room floor, in the interests of smoothing the way for the film's distribution in America." As for whether that deleted scene has been edited on the DVD release you can read Verlo's post and then watch the video below. There is definitely a jump after Otto introduces himself and that is on the DVD version, too.

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