'Passion' gives 'Life of Brian' something to celebrate
By ROGER MOORE
The Orlando Sentinel
Pythoner Eric Idle suggested Jesus Christ, Lust for Glory, playing off the British title of Patton: Lust For Glory, Jones recalls.I've heard this before, but I love that story. One thing I like to point out when showing students the Sermon on the Mount scene from Life fo Brian is that the Pythons also clearly chose an actor who looked like Robert Powell's Jesus to play Jesus in that opening scene, the only time Jesus appears in the film. The actor is a certain Kenneth Colley, about whom IMDb gives us this trivia, "The only actor to play an Imperial officer in more than one Star Wars film (not including extras)."
"The more we worked on it, the more interesting and outrageous it became. We reread the Gospels, changed the story to Brian, a contemporary of Jesus. We realized, very quickly, that the real humor lay not in what Christ said, but in the fact that 2,000 years after Christ, you've got everybody still killing each other because we can't get together on how we should worship and accept his message of peace and love."
In other words, people were misunderstanding the message of Jesus, right from the start. "Blessed are the cheesemakers," one character thinks he hears Jesus say off in the distance during the Sermon on the Mount.
Python and future Brazil director Terry Gilliam did the exceptional biblical production design, "but we lucked out in shooting in Monastir, Tunisia, the same place Franco Zeffirelli made Jesus of Nazareth," Jones says. "A lot of the same sets were still there. Just had to dress them up a bit.
"Of course, it also meant that you could be shooting your version of the Sermon on the Mount, and some elderly Tunisian extra would say, 'Well, that's not the way Zeffirelli did it.'"