Holy Flying Circus

Holy Flying Circus

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
Fremantle Home Entertainment

Release date: February 6th, 2012
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 89 minutes

Director: Owen Harris
Writer: Tony Roche

Cast: Darren Boyd, Charles Edwards, Steve Punt, Rufus Jones, Tom Fisher, Phil Nichol

In the late summer of 1979 there was one film that got everyone talking. Monty Python’s Life of Brian. This religious satire proved to be so controversial that even people who hadn’t seen it yet had something to say about it. Words like “blasphemy” and “sacrilege” were thrown into heated debates and there were calls for the film the banned in UK.

While it was banned in other countries like Ireland and Norway, Life of Brian gained popularity from this controversy and as word of mouth spread, it came to also be referred to as one of the greatest comedies of all time.

What was all the fuss about? Its story was about a young Jewish man, Brian (Graham Chapman), who was born on the same day as Jesus Christ and lived next door to him. Life of Brian was accused of making a mockery out of the Christian faith, with the Crucifixion scene perhaps drawing in the most criticism of all. Yet for all the uproar, it was a terribly funny film to watch and a great reminder that we shouldn’t take everything so damn seriously all the time.

Holy Flying Circus

Holy Flying Circus is a made-for-television film that I really wasn’t too keen on and it sat on my desk for a while before I finally gave in and watched it. It’s very much in the vein of the Monty Python humour but with a cast of actors from today’s comedy world. Darren Boyd plays John Cleese absolutely brilliantly while Charles Edwards does a wonderful turn as Michael Palin.

While the film also includes Steve Punt as Eric Idle, Rufus Jones as Terry Jones, Tom Fisher as Graham Chapman and Phil Nichol as Terry Gilliam, it’s really Cleese and Palin we stay with for most of the time. This makes sense because as protests against Life of Brian heats up, the pair will be forced to go on the talk-show Friday Night, Saturday Morning hosted by Tim Rice. Once there they will face accusations of blasphemy by Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood.

It’ a hilarious and at times very thoughtful look at how the events leading up to the talk-show might have gone. Watching Boyd and Edwards as Cleese and Palin you can’t help but think of the uncanny likeliness – they’ve really done great work here and there’s one particular piece of dialogue I found rather poignant. As they role-play some of the scenarios they might be faced with on Friday Night, Saturday Morning Palin tries to answer the accusation that they were being offensive for the sake of it.

PALIN: I don’t think we intended to be offensive for the sake of it.

CLEESE: There’s nothing wrong with being offensive. It’s part of life! If you get offended – so what? In a way it’s a good thing, tells you’re still alive at least…. Why can’t I say things to offend you? Hmm? Why can’t I say I don’t like your hair or your wife looks like a man and makes fucking awful soup? What’s the worst that could happen?

Holy Flying Circus

Just then Palin’s rather manly wife (Rufus Jones) walks in and Cleese is stumped for a moment as he tries to backtrack.

But he’s right. Why can’t we say things that offend? What’s so bloody wrong with being offensive? People get upset; it makes them uncomfortable for a while but so what? It’s a part of life and maybe you’re being told something for your own good or maybe you’re just too sensitive.

With political correctness going mad these days films like Life of Brian stand out even after all these years and Holy Flying Circus lovingly revisits that time to remind us that it’s ok to be offensive. Fans of the original Monty Python will certainly enjoy this and it also makes a great companion piece to the film as well.

About Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.