61 Monty Python's The Life of Brian

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Martha
Posts: 473
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:53 pm
Location: all up in thurr

61 Monty Python's The Life of Brian

#1 Post by Martha » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:24 am

The Life of Brian:

Image

After slaying the Arthurian legend in their now classic Holy Grail, the Pythons set their sights on the Greatest Story Ever Told. Blind faith, virgin birth, crucifixion, nothing is sacred in this epic send-up of ancient times, which draws on the cornball biblical blockbusters of the 1950s to lampoon celebrity culture in any era. Criterion has gathered the guilty parties, including John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, for two commentary tracks as provocative and hilarious as the film itself. Available for the first time in a 16:9 enhanced transfer, Monty Python's Life of Brian can finally be viewed in all its "ahem" glory.

Special Features

- Beautiful widescreen digital transfer, approved by director Terry Jones and enhanced for widescreen televisions
- Two exclusive audio commentaries: One by Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones; the second by John Cleese and Michael Palin
- Original theatrical trailer
- Five rarely seen deleted scenes with audio commentary by the Pythons
- Four original British radio ads
- Documentary film The Pythons, shot on location during the making of Life of Brian
- English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition."

Criterionforum.org user rating averages


ugobo
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 6:44 pm
Location: Montreal

#2 Post by ugobo » Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:06 pm

I remember reading somewhere that the video transfert is not that good.
Is it damage from the source negatives? How does it stand with Anchor Bay'sown DVD edition? Thanks!

Napoleon
Posts: 539
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:55 am

#3 Post by Napoleon » Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:15 am

The Beaver says.

Personally I think that the cc transfer is just fine, plus cc's extras are excellant and probably worth paying out the extra money for.

Narshty
Posts: 1324
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:27 pm
Location: London, UK

#4 Post by Narshty » Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:08 am

It's easily one of the most popular British films ever made, subject to endless video releases, TV screenings and cinema re-issues, so it's not at all surprising that the original elements Criterion had were in a slightly worn, grainy state (the fact the film was shot on the sort of notoriously unreliable stock issued throughout the late 70s on a low budget in a very hot country is another factor to take into consideration).

The image looks fine to me (it's not the sort of film one watches for the exquisite cinematography anyway; it's meant to have a rather hot, dusty look to it, evident in Criterion's transfer supervised by Terry Jones, but not in the UK disc with a completely natural colour palette) and the extras are totally essential.

BWilson
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:06 pm

#5 Post by BWilson » Sat Dec 18, 2004 6:36 pm

I've always said that Life of Brian has to be one of the most poorly made films of all time. The script is brilliant but the direction, staging, and composition are awful, the photography grainy and sloppy, and the audio muddy and difficult to hear. The Criterion DVD is a fabulous transfer of film and audio elements that totally suck.

User avatar
Donald Brown
Posts: 695
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:21 pm
Location: a long the riverrun

#6 Post by Donald Brown » Sat Dec 18, 2004 10:10 pm

Narshty wrote:...but not in the UK disc with a completely natural colour palette...

There's nothing natural about the R2 disc's color, it's far too blue and cold.

Narshty
Posts: 1324
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:27 pm
Location: London, UK

#7 Post by Narshty » Mon Dec 20, 2004 3:19 pm

BWilson wrote:I've always said that Life of Brian has to be one of the most poorly made films of all time. The script is brilliant but the direction, staging, and composition are awful, the photography grainy and sloppy, and the audio muddy and difficult to hear.

I can't say I've ever has troubling hearing the dialogue, but to complain about the technical aspects of the film is a little beside the point. Terry Jones films what is funny (and, crucially, doesn't place undue stress on background or throwaway gags) which is really all that's important. It's like complaining about Edward Cline's "pedestrian" mise-en-scene or Milton Krasner's "workmanlike" cinematography on The Bank Dick - it's a style of comedy entirely focused around the script and performances.

BWilson
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:06 pm

#8 Post by BWilson » Mon Dec 20, 2004 8:19 pm

Here's an excellent example of how bad the audio is:

The "What have the Romans ever done for us?" scene. Watch this scene in the film and then watch The Pythons documentary where you see the scene being rehearsed and shot. The audio is much more easily understood in the documentary, with each speaker being clearly understood.

Narshty, I understand your point and agree, but I will say that the mis-en-scene is considerably better in Holy Grail and Meaning of Life.

The mismatched editing of material that was half location and half studio reshoots is terribly obvious ("Alms for an ex-leper"), and the awkward composition and shitty day for night of the "Romans Go Home" scene (caused by Cleese's stubbornness) really hurt the film. By "hurt" I mean it would have been funnier if the technical gaffs weren't so distractingly awful.

Furthermore, Terry Gilliam never fails to note about Terry Jones' complete disregard for his detailed sets which sound very cool (as described by Gilliam) yet go completely unseen in the film.

Narshty
Posts: 1324
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:27 pm
Location: London, UK

#9 Post by Narshty » Mon Dec 20, 2004 9:47 pm

BWilson wrote:Furthermore, Terry Gilliam never fails to note about Terry Jones' complete disregard for his detailed sets which sound very cool (as described by Gilliam) yet go completely unseen in the film.

But it's definitely not the sort of film where one's attention should be focused on the lush backdrops! I've probably seen the film half-a-dozen times or so, and I can honestly say I've never noticed the location/studio reshoot problems you cite. Yes, the "Romans go home" scene is obviously day-for-night, but - so what? Not trying calling you some sort of uptight stickler in comparison, but I really don't require technical perfection to fully immerse myself in a film, especially when it's as painfully funny as Life of Brian.

User avatar
cdnchris
Site Admin
Posts: 3774
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

#10 Post by cdnchris » Mon Dec 20, 2004 10:08 pm

"I am the Messiah!... Now fuck off!"
"How should we 'fuck off', oh Lord?"

Oops, wrong thread.

User avatar
colinr0380
Posts: 8384
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#11 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Dec 21, 2004 8:09 am

Narshty wrote:
BWilson wrote:Furthermore, Terry Gilliam never fails to note about Terry Jones' complete disregard for his detailed sets which sound very cool (as described by Gilliam) yet go completely unseen in the film.

But it's definitely not the sort of film where one's attention should be focused on the lush backdrops! I've probably seen the film half-a-dozen times or so, and I can honestly say I've never noticed the location/studio reshoot problems you cite. Yes, the "Romans go home" scene is obviously day-for-night, but - so what? Not trying calling you some sort of uptight stickler in comparison, but I really don't require technical perfection to fully immerse myself in a film, especially when it's as painfully funny as Life of Brian.


Yes I'd agree with that - its like complaining that the spaceship sequence has crummy special effects - it just makes it funnier! That and the car engine noises for the spacecraft which is up there with the noise of the plane in Airplane! as the funniest use of an engine sound in comedy!

Surely part of the reason for the crumminess of the look is a piss-take of all those epic films where its obvious they were shot in a studio, or done day-for night, or have a Roman soldier with a wrist watch on etc! The same thing with the accents, was a Cockney singing on a cross in Biblical times? - no, its another take on the use of things like American accents in epic films - wasn't it John Wayne in The Greatest Story Ever Told who drawls "Truly that was the son of God" (!)

I especially like the opening scene with half the crowd not being able to hear Jesus and putting their own interpretation on what he's saying. Its a good pastiche on those films (a Criterion example would be Spartacus addressing the other slaves, which is openly quoted in the "I'm Spartacus!"/"I'm Brian, and so's my wife!" scene) where the leader addresses the troops and everyone can hear them perfectly! Its also an early indication before Brian becomes mistaken for the Messiah, of how misunderstanding can be a dangerous thing, something that applies as much to film criticism as religion! I love the later scene with the followers breaking into factions, one following the gourd, the other the shoe!

"Myrrh? What are you giving him Myrrh for? It might bite him!"

Of course for all the excellent commentary on religion we also get the plain nuts (spaceship) and naughty jokes!

"Do you laugh when I mention my friend. . . Biggus. . . Dikkus? He has a wife you know!"

BWilson
Posts: 224
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:06 pm

#12 Post by BWilson » Tue Dec 21, 2004 1:22 pm

I wouldn't say the technical problems were intentional. Just listen to the commentary, there's considerable comment on the technical problems they had and the "fixes" they had to perform in haste. The bad day-for-night for example was a result of Cleese insisting on shooting him from one particular side and could have been avoided if he'd been more flexible. On a technical level Brian is their most flawed film, but it's script is probably their best.

User avatar
neuro
Posts: 222
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:39 pm
Location: New Jersey
Contact:

#13 Post by neuro » Thu Jul 14, 2005 2:04 am

Via yahoo.com:

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - PBS will be the home for six new Monty Python specials this spring. Each special will focus on a member of the British comedy troupe, mixing new footage with clips from Python movies and the group's television series.

American audiences first discovered Monty Python on public television after PBS obtained the rights to the sketch comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus" from the BBC in the 1970s, said John Wilson, PBS' senior vp and co-chief programming executive.

The new series, spotlighting Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones, will be called "Monty Python's Personal Best" and is being produced by Python (Monty) Pictures Ltd.

Astroman
FAQ: "Man or Astroman?"
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:31 pm

#14 Post by Astroman » Thu Jul 14, 2005 3:53 pm

If I'm not mistaken, assuming they're the same as the PBS shows, I think these are already slated for dvd release, two of which, Michael Palin's and Eric Idle's, are due next month.

Even better, I think, is the imminent, overdue R1 releases of Do Not Adjust Your Set, At Last the 1948 Show, and Ripping Yarns. Really looking forward to these.

Sorry somewhat off-topic.

User avatar
justeleblanc
Posts: 2688
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:05 pm
Location: Connecticut

#15 Post by justeleblanc » Thu Jul 14, 2005 4:38 pm

Ripping Yarns. I've been dying to see those. I've only read the scripts. Maybe a potential Criterion.

User avatar
colinr0380
Posts: 8384
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#16 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 5:14 pm

Just a post to mention that the sketch the Not The Nine O'Clock News show did that parodied the controversy about Life of Brian is on YouTube!

User avatar
Person
Posts: 971
Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 3:00 pm

#17 Post by Person » Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:25 pm

Sony will be releasing a SE on Blu-Ray and 2-disc SD-DVD on November 6.

User avatar
LionelHutz
Posts: 71
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 7:32 am
Location: Italy

#18 Post by LionelHutz » Wed Aug 22, 2007 9:15 am

Person wrote:Sony will be releasing a SE on Blu-Ray and 2-disc SD-DVD on November 6.

All the prints I've seen look like shit,so it would be interesting to see how people will react once they see all the flaws in glorious high definition.

User avatar
Person
Posts: 971
Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 3:00 pm

#19 Post by Person » Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:29 am

All video transfers have also been less than great, too. They all look too grainy to me and the skin tones are far too red on the current Sony DVD.

User avatar
dx23
Posts: 3779
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:52 pm
Location: Puerto Rico

#20 Post by dx23 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 11:18 pm

Person wrote:Sony will be releasing a SE on Blu-Ray and 2-disc SD-DVD on November 6.

So will the Criterion and Anchor Bay editions go OOP? Exactly who owns the rights to this film? I thought this was one of the HandMade Films that George Harrison's estate owns.

User avatar
cdnchris
Site Admin
Posts: 3774
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
Contact:

#21 Post by cdnchris » Thu Aug 23, 2007 8:53 pm

I have no idea who owns the rights. In Canada (not sure about the States) Sony released Life of Brian on DVD but the Criterion one can still be purchased, as far as I know anyways. While the Sony one still used a shitty print, the image, from what I can remember, did look better than the Criterion one overall.

cana7cl
Posts: 57
Joined: Sun May 27, 2007 4:44 pm
Contact:

#22 Post by cana7cl » Sun Aug 26, 2007 2:53 pm


User avatar
manicsounds
Posts: 3887
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:58 pm
Location: Tokyo, Japan

#23 Post by manicsounds » Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:44 am

The commentaries are ported over, has some new extras.
And much cheaper. I will probably be upgrading the Criterion.

Strange that Sony went for the 2 commentary tracks for this (and Holy Grail) but not for Taxi Driver....

User avatar
Fan-of-Kurosawa
Posts: 89
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:48 am
Location: Athens, Greece

#24 Post by Fan-of-Kurosawa » Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:44 pm

I just bought the R2 Sony 2-disc SE version even though I also have the Criterion Version.

As far as I can say the transfer is a lot better, but of course it is not perfect by any means.

The sound is also a lot more fuller since it is 5.1 of course.

As far as the extras go, I haven't heard the script reading but I saw the new documentary and it is very good. I much prefer it from the original 1978 doc that is included in the Criterion. mainly because it has many details about the controversy and the reactions that the film caused upon its release. By the way, the deleted scenes have the same terrible transfers.

In conclusion, I thing the new SE is better than the Criterion and I am happy that I doubled-dipped. Of course I will keep my Criterion disc too.(I can't believe I double-dipped a Criterion disc). :P

User avatar
Madadayo
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 12:59 pm

#25 Post by Madadayo » Fri May 02, 2008 1:30 pm

Is the new Brian only in HD or BluRay or whatever?

Yes, I have 20th century technology and haven't bought a new tv and new dvd player yet.

Re-releases like Brian and Baron Mucnhausen will force me to, yes?

Hum... Must be a new drive I can buy for the computer that can play BluRay. Or the old drive with new software?

Oy.

Post Reply