Original Anti-Zionist jokes in Monty Python’s LIFE OF BRIAN remain cut out of Criterion special edition
Think you know the saga of the deleted scenes from Monty Python’s LIFE OF BRIAN? Not if you trust Wikipedia. The 1979 comedy didn’t just take the mickey out of Jesus and the feuding Palestinian Liberation fronts, it poked fun at Zionists, as goose-stepping racists led by Eric Idle’s OTTO the NAZIRENE determined to promote Jewish racial purity, carve a Lebensraum from the “traditional Jewish areas of Samaria,” displace the Samaritans into internment camps, and plan an Anschluss of Jordan to “create a great Jewish state that will last a thousand years.” My, my, my. But the defamed parties had the last laugh. They acquired the studio with the rights to the film, obliterated the offending celluloid, reedited the video release, and have rewritten cinematic history.
Maybe you don’t care what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians. Did you know someone is messing with the oeuvre of Monty Python? We had the comedy sketches memorized in college. Who could have imagined the originals would be vulnerable to tampering?
I’m not sure this is an overreaction. Monty Python is not Shakespeare, what is? But it’s not Nicholas Sparks either. For a populist phenom I say Python rivals Swift. This is book burning, is what it is — a sinister effacing of creative work. In a recent British poll, Life of Brian was in contention for England’s greatest film comedy. But for your consideration, instead of a director’s cut, we’ve got a censor’s cut.
Here’s the lowdown in brief: three integral scenes of the theatrical release were removed from the video version. The third scene was recut to make up for the absence of the first two. And a key character was stricken from the credits.
When Criterion later released a collector’s edition, the missing sequences were included in the extras as “deleted scenes.” But these scenes were represented by mangled outtakes of the originals, from which key lines remain excised. Then an official narrative was fabricated to recount how the sequences had been removed from the original version to improve the flow, the crude outtakes testifying to why they didn’t make the cut.
But that’s all bullocks –and the niggling weak spot to this digital book burning is, ironically enough, that BOOKS were published in 1979 to accompany the film’s release: a mass-market paperback of the screenplay, and an oversized Monty Python Scrapbook.
The rewrite runs afoul too of anyone who remembers seeing the film in its first release.
Not My Tribe has suffered its own internal dissension over comparing Israel to the Nazis. Apparently it’s SO not done, not even Monty Python can get away with it.
You may have revisited the video many times, now the DVD, maybe you read about the scandals about the film’s release, maybe you memorized some of the Biggus Dickus dialog; are you curious that you missed the bits about Samaria, Jordan and purified Jewish blood?
When the Catholic church objects to a movie, it declares a boycott. Zionists take a more effective strategy. When pulling funding from the project doesn’t work, they buy the rights and delete the scenes. You’d think a film as celebrated as Life of Brian would be inviolate to culture vandals. And so far the desecration has escaped the legions of Monty Python fans. Wikipedia recounts how Otto’s scenes were deleted from the film, and thankfully resurfaced to be included as outtakes on the 2007 Criterion edition. But the account is untrue.
From restored out-takes we might surmise that Jewish objection were limited to the Star of David embellished as a swastika, but from the un-restored material it seems that the modern censors objected to Zionists depicted as determined to carve their own Lebensraum in Samariaby by means of Anschluss and concentration camps, for the sake of a third Jewish reich. And what have we now happening in the Occupied Territories which Israeli settlers insist on calling their Sumaria and Judea of biblical history, and what of the open air internment of the Palestinians in Gaza. Oh My Goodness.
The Criterion edition of Monty Python’s Life of Brian has some famously restored scenes, alleged to have been cut from the original version. They’re available again, and you can see them on Youtube. But it’s Poppycock. The scenes in question were actually removed from the video release, and “lost” by the studio which took over handmade films. The deleted scenes were actually out-takes of the originals. Fortunately, the screenplay published to accompany the 1979 release has the original lines, which vary quite curiously from what’s being peddled as the restored original. Yes, the deleted scenes have deleted scenes.
If you saw the 1979 film in the theater, you might remember Otto, the Hitleresque Zionist with the curiously non-German accent. Here is the original script made from the final take. The out-take restored as “deleted scenes” stray considerably from these lines. The lines in bold have simply been simply clipped.
BRIAN slips out through the back door and descends some steps into MANDY’S garden where he sits, head in hands.
Suddenly a voice assails him.
OTTO: Hail, Leader!
OTTO: Oh, I– I’m so sorry. Have you seen the new Leader?
BRIAN: The what?
OTTO: The new Leader. Where is the new leader? I wish to hail him. Hail, Leader. See.
BRIAN: Oh. Who are you?
OTTO: My name. Is. Otto.
OTTO: Yes. Otto. It’s time, you know. . .
OTTO: . . . Time that we Jews racially purified ourselves.
OTTO: He’s right you know. The new leader. We need more living room. We must move into the traditionally Jewish areas of Samaria.
BRIAN: What about the Samaritans?
OTTO: Well, we can put them in little camps. And after Samaria we must move into Jordan and create a great Jewish state that will last a thousand years.
BRIAN: Yes, I’m not sure, but I . . .
OTTO: Oh, I grow so impatient, you know. To see the Leader that has been promised our people for centuries. The Leader who will save Israel by ridding it of the scum of non-Jewish people, making it pure, no foreigners, no gypsies, no riff-raff.
BRIAN: Shh! Otto!
OTTO: What? The Leader? Hail Leader!
BRIAN: No, no. It’s dangerous.
OTTO: Oh, danger: There’s no danger. (flicks his fingers) Men!
A phalanx of armed, rather sinister, men appear from the shadows and fall in.
OTTO: Impressive, eh?
OTTO: Yes, we are a thoroughly trained suicide squad.
OTTO: Oh yes, we can commit suicide within twenty seconds.
BRIAN: Twenty seconds?
OTTO: You don’t believe me?
BRIAN: Well . . .Yes . . .
OTTO: I think you question me.
BRIAN: No. No.
OTTO: I can see you do not believe me.
BRIAN: No, no. I do.
OTTO: Enough. I prove it to you. Squad.
SQUAD: Hail Leader.
OTTO: Co-mmit Suicide.
They all pull out their swords with military precision and plunge them into themselves in time, falling in a big heap on the ground. Dead.
OTTO: (with pride) See.
OTTO: I think now you believe me. Yes?
OTTO: I think now I prove it to you, huh?
BRIAN: Yes, you certainly did.
OTTO: All dead.
OTTO: Not one living.
OTTO: You see, they are all of them quite dead. See I kick this one. He’s dead. And this one’s dead, I tread on his head. And he’s dead. And he’s dead. All good Jewish boys, no foreigners. But they died a hero’s death and their names will live forever. Helmut . . . Johnny . . . the little guy . . . er . . . the other fat one . . . their names will be remembered . . . eventually . . . forever. So now I go. Hail Leader.
BRIAN: Wait Otto. You can’t just leave them all here.
OTTO: Why not–they’re all dead.
One oh the ‘corpses’ farts. There is a giggle.
OTTO: Wait a minute. There is somebody here who is not dead. There’s somebody here who is only pretending to be dead. Stand up, you.
One of the bodies stands up sheepishly. As he does so, he stands on someone else who quite clearly says ‘Ow.’
OTTO: Who said ‘ow’? You’re not dead either. Neither are you. Stand up, stand up, all of you. Oh, my heck, is there not even one dead?!
They have all stood up averting their eyes in shame.
HELMUT: No, sir. Not one.
ADOLF: We thought it was a practice, sir.
OTTO: Oh my cock! Tomorrow, as a punishment, you will all eat–pork sausages!
There is a horrified muttering at this suggestion. OTTO turns sharply to BRIAN.
OTTO: OK. Tell the Leader that we are ready to die for him the moment he gives the sign.
BRIAN: What sign?
OTTO: The sign that is the sign, that shall be the sign. Men, forward!
OTTO’S MEN march away singing their exciting song.
OTTO’S MEN’S SONG:
There’s a man we call our Leader.
He’s fine and strong and brave,
And we’ll follow him unquestioning
Towards an early grave. He-e gives us hope of sacrifice
And a chance to die in vain,
And if we’re one of the lucky ones,
We’ll live to die again.
BRIAN: Silly bugger.
A second scene involves Otto and his Nazirenes receiving the sign, as the crucifixion party departs the city gates.
JUDITH now is running through the crowded streets. She reaches some steps and climbs up onto a roof. Quickly, she opens a basket and releases a flock of pigeons.
A very STRANGE MAN is lying on a lonely hilltop. Suddenly he rouses himself, sits up and peers into the distance towards Jerusalem.
A flock of pigeons flies up against the sun.
Seeing this, the STRANGE MAN rouses himself and does an extremely odd but elaborate dance.
Further away, on an even lonelier hilltop, a pile of straw moves to reveal that it is in fact a MAN dressed in straw. He watches the STRANGE MAN’S dance closely.
STRAW LOOK-OUT: It is the sign!
Instantly OTTO appears, with all his men.
OTTO: The sign that is the sign?
OTTO: Men! Our time has come! Our leader calls! Men forward!
The MEN march into the wall and each other.
OTTO: Oh my cock.
Of course the omission of Otto’s gang created a problem for the film’s final scene, where his men repeat their self-sacrifice beneath the crosses. Here was the original sequence:
Suddenly PARVUS looks up. He has heard something.
OTTO and his MEN appear over the skyline.
BRIAN: Otto! (a new flicker of hope in his eyes)
OTTO: Men, charge!
The ROMANS, seeing this formidable army bearing down on them, finger their swords rather nervously and then break and run away back towards the city gate.
BRIAN’S face lights up with renewed hope as he sees OTTO’S army advancing at the double. The army arrives under the cross, swords held aloft. The ROMANS have all run away.
OTTO: (to Brian) Leader! We salute you. Men! Die for your cause!
With immaculate precision they all run themselves through, including OTTO.
OTTO: You see. Every man a hero. They died for their country.
BRIAN: You silly sods.
For the re-edited video and subsequent DVD versions, audio voice-overs were added to explain Otto’s final charge. None of this was in the original.
–[A group of faux oriental-looking warriors come over a hill, led by their leader, King Otto. Care to venture a guess as to who they are? Yes, it’s…]
The Judean People’s Front!
The Judean People’s Front!
Look out! The Judean People’s Front!
–[The JPF stop in front of Brian’s cross.]
Ve are the Judean People’s Front! Crack suicide squad. Suicide Squad! Attack!!!
–[They all ceremonially whip out their weapons, open a hatch in their armor, and proceed to kill themselves.]
Ungggghhh… that showed ’em, huh?
You silly sods.
Scan from Monty Python Scrapbook of Brian of Nazareth, (NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1979) page 5: “Dramatis Personae, in order of appearance” lower ninth tenth of list.
Tags: Censorship, Eric Idle, Life of Brian, Monty Python, Otto the Nazirene, Zionism
Note Eric Idle as Otto, the Nazirene, evidently scrubbed from the revised credits too.