Hai più culo che anima!
a cura di Giuseppe Iannozzi
Hai più culo che anima! (Un passante rivolto a Brian)
«È il film peggiore dei Monty Python. Un pasticciaccio. Che solo a tratti, nella parodia che Terry Jones e gli altri si salva, con beffe e lazzi che graffiano; in tutto il resto si scade nella goliardia più infima e volgare. Tutto da buttar via, perciò.»
(Gian Luigi Rondi, “Il Tempo”)
Life of Brian (Brian di Nazareth) fu accusato di blasfemia dalla Chiesa cattolica e fu censurato in diversi paesi, tra cui la Norvegia; in molti cinema svedesi si poteva leggere su un apposito cartellone: “Questo film è talmente divertente che in Norvegia lo hanno censurato”.
Per riuscire a produrre il film, i Monthy Python chiesero l’aiuto di George Harrison che fondò apposta una sua casa di produzione cinematografica, la HandMade Films.
Nel 1999 il British Film Institute ha inserito Life of Brian al 28º posto della lista dei migliori cento film britannici del XX secolo.
Citazioni da Brian di Nazareth:
- Vovesciatelo pev tevva. (Pilato) [Pilato ordina al centurione di rovesciare l'insolente Brian]
- Ah, e grazie tante per l’oro e per l’incenso, ma per la mirra non dovete disturbarvi, la prossima volta, d’accordo? (Mandy)
- Mi pare che ha detto “Beati i panificatori”. (Un uomo che assiste al discorso delle beatitudini) [Che a causa della distanza da Gesù non riesce ad udire bene le parole]
- “Beati i puri liquori” (Un uomo che assiste al discorso delle beatitudini)
- Va bene, ma a parte le fognature, vino, medicina, istruzione, asini pubblici in orario, ordine pubblico, irrigazione, strade, spiagge libere non inquinate, bilancia dei pagamenti in attivo… che cosa hanno fatto i Romani per noi? (Reg)
- Io ho un cavo amico a Voma che si chiama Mavco Pisellonio. (Pilato)
- Qualcun altvo è in vena di… visatine… quando nomino il mio amico… Mavco… Pisellonio… Beh, sentiamo a te. Lo tvovi… visibile? Quando dico il nome… Mavco… Pisellonio… (Pilato)
- Hai più culo che anima! (Un passante rivolto a Brian)
- Ave Fefare! (Marco Pisellonio) [Marco Pisellonio non riesce a pronunciare bene la 'S']
- E cvocifiggetelo pev benino. (Pilato)
- Popolo di Gevusalemme! Voma è vostva sovella! (Pilato)
- Libeva Bavnaba! (Folla) [Prendendo in giro Pilato che ha la 'R' moscia]
- Allova è Bvuto che devi libevave! Bvuto libevo! Bvuto libevo! Bvuto libevo! (Folla) [Ibidem]
- Risus abundat in ore Hebraeorum. (Centurione)
- Lafcia che li apoftrofi io! (Marco Pisellonio)
Shortly after the film was released, Cleese and Palin engaged in a what would become a notorious debate on the BBC2 discussion programme Friday Night, Saturday Morning, in which Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood, the Bishop of Southwark, put the case against the film. Muggeridge and the Bishop had arrived 15 minutes late to see a screening of the picture prior to the debate, missing the establishing scenes demonstrating that Brian and Jesus were two different characters, and hence contended that it was a send-up of Christ himself. Both Pythons later felt that there had been a strange role reversal in the manner of the debate, with two young upstart comedians attempting to make serious, well-researched points, while the establishment figures engaged in cheap jibes and point scoring. They also expressed disappointment in Muggeridge, whom all in Python had previously respected as a satirist. Cleese expressed that his reputation had “plummeted” in his eyes, while Palin commented that, “He was just being Muggeridge, preferring to have a very strong contrary opinion as opposed to none at all”. Muggeridge’s verdict on the film was that it was “Such a tenth-rate film that it couldn’t possibly destroy anyone’s genuine faith”.
The Pythons unanimously deny that they were ever out to destroy people’s faith. On the DVD audio commentary, they contend that the film is heretical because it lampoons the practices of modern organised religion, but that it does not blasphemously lampoon the God that Christians and Jews worship. When Jesus does appear in the film (on the Mount, speaking the Beatitudes), he is played straight (by actor Kenneth Colley) and portrayed with respect. The music and lighting make it clear that there is a genuine aura around him. The comedy begins when members of the crowd mishear his statements of peace, love and tolerance (“I think he said, ‘blessed are the cheese makers’”). Importantly, he is distinct from the character of Brian, which is also evident in the scene where an annoying and ungrateful ex-leper pesters Brian for money, while moaning that since Jesus cured him, he has lost his source of income in the begging trade (referring to Jesus as a “bloody do-gooder”).
James Crossley, however, has argued that the film makes the distinction between Jesus and the character of Brian to make a contrast between the traditional Christ of both faith and cinema and the historical figure of Jesus in critical scholarship and how critical scholars have argued that ideas later got attributed to Jesus by his followers. Crossley points out that the film uses a number of potentially controversial scholarly theories about Jesus but now with reference to Brian, such as the Messianic Secret, the Jewishness of Jesus, Jesus the revolutionary, and having a single mother.
Not all the Pythons agree on the definition of the movie’s tone. There was a brief exchange that occurred when the surviving members reunited in Aspen, Colorado, in 1998 for a show that was broadcast on HBO and has since become available on video. The appearance was billed as the “U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Tribute to Monty Python”, although video releases have gone by varying titles, including “Monty Python Live at Aspen (1998)”. The programme mostly consists of an interview, on stage, by U.S. comedian Robert Klein. In the section where Life of Brian is being discussed, Terry Jones says, “I think the film is heretical, but it’s not blasphemous”. Eric Idle can be heard to concur, adding, “It’s a heresy”. However, John Cleese, disagreeing, counters, “I don’t think it’s a heresy. It’s making fun of the way that people misunderstand the teaching”. Jones responds, “Of course it’s a heresy, John! It’s attacking the Church! And that has to be heretical”. Cleese replies, “No, it’s not attacking the Church, necessarily. It’s about people who cannot agree with each other”.
In a later interview Jones said the film “isn’t blasphemous because it doesn’t touch on belief at all. It is heretical, because it touches on dogma and the interpretation of belief, rather than belief itself.”
The film continues to cause controversy; in February 2007 the Church of St Thomas the Martyr in Newcastle upon Tyne held a public screening in the church itself, with song-sheets, organ accompaniment, stewards in costume and false beards for female members of the audience (alluding to an early scene where a group of women disguise themselves as men so that they are able to take part in a stoning). Although the screening was a sell-out, some Christian groups, notably the conservative Christian Voice, were highly critical of the decision to allow the screening to go ahead. Stephen Green, the head of Christian Voice, insisted that “You don’t promote Christ to the community by taking the mick out of him”. The Reverend Jonathan Adams, one of the church’s clergy, defended his taste in comedy, saying that it did not mock Jesus, and that it raised important issues about the hypocrisy and stupidity that can affect religion. Again on the film’s DVD commentary, Cleese also spoke up for religious people who have come forward and congratulated him and his colleagues on the film’s highlighting of double standards among purported followers of their own faith.