• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


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    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy) - Life of Brian: The Musical

    Way back in October, Peter Chattaway posted about Eric Idle's plans to turn Monty Python's 1979 Jesus film Life of Brian into a musical. There have now been a number of articles on this show, which is to be called Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy). Playbill reported on it back in October, then Variety covered it last month, and then yesterday Peter linked to The Globe and Mail (although you have to pay for that last article).

    Following the success of Idle's "Spamalot", he is, once again, collaborating with composer John Du Prez. However, according to The Globe and Mail article the show's première will be conducted by Idle's cousin, Peter Oundjian - the musical director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Not the Messiah is due to open at the Luminato Festival of Arts and Creativity in Toronto on June 1st.

    But notably, according to this latest article at least, this production will not actually be a musical. It will be an oratorio (a non-costumed, non-acted, concert performance usually dealing with religious subject matter) and it will use 40 musicians and 4 classical singers. Idle notes how it it unlikely to cause offence as there is no crucifixion scene. It's "good-natured playing with the concept of [Handel's] Messiah" as much as anything else.

    This latest article includes a few interesting quotations for fans of Life of Brian:
    "As Handel's lyricist adapted the Nativity story and the Gospel story," says Idle, "this adapts the story of Brian, a simple boy mistaken for the Messiah, which is his curse." He's talking over the phone from his home in Los Angeles, and the end of that sentence is nearly lost in laughter. The mere thought of Brian Cohen, not-Messiah, still makes him giggle...

    Idle remembers the film's shoot in Tunisia as "the most fun we ever had." Graham Chapman gave up his heavy drinking habit partway through the shoot in order to play Brian (a role that John Cleese had coveted for his own)...
    I love the thought of Idle still giggling to himself at the central concept of Life of Brian almost 30 years later, and it's good to see him exploring more challenging forms and material. I have a lot of respect for artists who continually push themselves and their work in new directions.



    • At 12:10 pm, March 16, 2010, Anonymous ArtsAllianceMedia said…

      And here it is!


      Thursday 25th March 2010

      A fabulously entertaining 90 minute comic oratorio by Eric Idle and John Du Prez (creators of Spamalot) inspired by Monty Python’s Life Of Brian filmed at its only European performance at the Royal Albert Hall in October 2009 to celebrate 40 years of Monty Python.
      This hilarious take on the Messiah features the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, a host of superb soloists in the lead roles including Rosalind Plowright and Eric Idle, with Michael Palin as Mrs Betty Parkinson and special guest appearances from Pythons Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. And of course three sheep!

      Like Handel only funnier


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