Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Publisher: Acorn Media
Publisher: Acorn Media
Holy Flying Circus is a
major treat for Monty Python fans.
First broadcast as a BBC-4 program in October 2011, HFC is a 90 minute take on the controversy that surrounded the release of Python’s Life of Brian in 1979. Written by Tony Roche and directed by Owen Harris, the film is anything but a straight-forward documentary or biopick. The storyline builds up to a climatic debate, of sorts, between Malcolm Muggeridge (Michael Cochrane) and the Bishop of Southwark (Roy Marsden) taking on John Cleese (Darren Boyd) and Michael Palin (Charles Edwards) on the Friday Night, Saturday Morning TV show.
Getting to that
confrontation is roughly 75 minutes of very Pythonesque humor in very
large doses. There is animation, cross-dressing, over-the top
monologues, surrealistic dream sequences, oddball wordplay, and even
cameos from God ((Stephen Fry) and Jesus (Ben Crispin). Everything
you’d expect from the Pythons except silly songs. Wisely, Roche
chose to frame his script on essentially two Pythons. both Edwards—as
the nicest man in England—and Boyd, who tells the audience he’s
doing more Basil Fawlty than the actual Cleese—give spot-on
impersonations. The rest of the Python troupe have their scenes, but
they’re mainly supporting players including Eric Idle (Steve Punt),
Graham Chapman (Tom Fisher), Terry Gilliam (Phil Nichol), and Terry
Jones (Rufus Jones, who also plays Palin’s wife.) Trying to give
the entire ensemble equal time wasn’t necessary as Palin and Cleese
serve as perfect foils for each other—up to that televised debate.
Clearly, viewers who will most appreciate this program will be those familiar with Life of Brian due to the frequent allusions to the film’s content. Clearly, fans of Monty Python should be delighted not only for the actor’s impersonations, but the very clever use of Python’s trademark comic devices. True, if foul language is offensive to your ears, you won’t last five minutes with HFC. I must admit, I wasn’t totally convinced this outing was the best defense of Life of Brian I’ve seen; the Pythons were far more eloquent themselves in interviews they did in 1979 that are now available on the DVD version of LOB. There’s nothing especially revelatory about the deleted scenes, outtakes, or other brief special features. Still, I wouldn’t have missed Holy Flying Circus for anything. I’ll be watching this one again. After all, the package includes both a Blu-Ray and DVD version. It’s another slice of the bright side of life.