Monty Python's 'Life of Brian'
Set for Re-Release

March 23, 2004

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Coming back soon to a theater near you -- a controversial film about a Jewish guy from Nazareth who is worshiped as the Messiah and crucified by the Romans.

No, it's not Mel Gibson's ``The Passion of the Christ.'' It's Monty Python's ``Life of Brian.''

Inspired by the runaway success -- and public furor -- over Gibson's portrayal of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus, the creators behind the 1979 biblical satire about an anti-Roman activist who spends his life being mistaken for a prophet are planning a 25th anniversary re-release next month.

``Life of Brian'' will open at the end of April in Los Angeles and New York before expanding to other cities across the country, Rainbow Film Company president Henry Jaglom, whose distribution arm is reissuing the film, said on Tuesday.

Jaglom, a writer-director whose partner, John Goldstone, produced the original film, said trailers for the comedy would appear in theaters starting on Good Friday.

``We decided this is an important time to re-release this film, to provide some counter-programing to 'The Passion,''' Jaglom told Reuters. ``I intend it, hopefully, to serve as an antidote to all the hysteria about Mel's movie.''

He said marketing for the re-release would play off Gibson's film by adapting such taglines as ``Mel or Monty'' and ``The Passion or the Python'' -- ``we want to give people a choice.''

The members of the Monty Python comedy troupe -- John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and the late Graham Chapman (who played Brian) -- all shared writing credits on the film and won back theatrical rights to it several years ago. Jaglom said the surviving members ``all agreed this was a good time'' to re-release the film and would help promote it.

Owing to a heavy turnout by Christian moviegoers and weeks of intense media attention, Gibson's film opened to blockbuster success on Feb. 25 -- Ash Wednesday. ``The Passion'' has gone on to generate nearly $300 million in North American ticket sales alone, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

``Life of Brian,'' stirred an uproar all its own 25 years ago, with some Christians condemning the film as blasphemous. The film only got made when former Beatle George Harrison stepped in to finance the picture after EMI Films withdrew from the project, fearing that it was too controversial.

The movie focused on the fictional Brian of Nazareth, a Jew who is born in the manger next-door to Jesus and grows up to join an anti-Roman separatist group called the Judean People's Front but ends up being mistaken for the Messiah. The film's creators have said it was meant as a spoof on Bible films and intolerance rather than Christianity.

But that distinction was lost on some who were offended by the irreverent flavor of the film, including a scene in which several crucifixion victims sing and whistle the tune ``Look On the Bright Side of Life'' while hanging on crosses.

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