40 Years Ago: ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ Weathers Protests https://ultimateclassicrock.com/monty-python-life-of-brian/
Another moment that could’ve gone south, but managed to work within the confines of the film, featured Chapman in his birthday suit. Playing the title character, Chapman at one point reveals all, inadvertently to hundreds of onlookers. The film’s production, in Tunisia, used a lot of Muslim extras, which posed a problem here, since Muslim women were, by their religious tenets, not supposed to see a random nude man, as they would here. “When I flung open the shutters," Chapman remembered, "half the crowd ran away screaming.” Though the film eventually got the shot as expected, it was yet another case of foreshadowing of what could happen with the film’s release.
But it wasn’t without protest in the U.S. The weekend of its release, there was a response from Rabbi Abraham Hecht of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. As quoted in The Guardian, his response was “Never have we come across such a foul, disgusting, blasphemous film before. …[Brian] was produced in hell.” Soon after, members of the Protestant and Catholic Churches chimed in, dubbing the film “a disgraceful assault on religious sensitivity” and the latter group rating it as “Condemned."
Of course, all the complaints and protests did was a version of what’s now known as the Streisand Law, after Barbra Streisand complained about photos of the beachside view of her Malibu house violating her privacy, which only served to make more people aware of the photos and her house. The protesting of Life of Brian may have been designed to quash the film’s popularity, but the opposite wound up being true. The film was originally intended to open on just 200 screens in the U.S., but got triple that number based on people’s interest levels, goosed up by the criticisms.