Second coming for Brian

The Monty Python film arrives in Aberystwyth, 30 years late. Richard Osley reports

He might not be the Messiah, but in the eyes of a small Welsh seaside town, Monty Python's luckless but much-loved character Brian Cohen is at last no longer considered such a naughty boy, either.

Thirty years after his comic crucifixion in The Life of Brian had religious leaders in Aberystwyth so hot under the dog collar that screenings of the film were banned in their town, Brian has finally beaten his censors. And so, one of the longest-delayed premieres in cinema history took place at the 120-seat Aberystwyth Arts Centre last night.

The Python actors Terry Jones and Michael Palin, who three decades ago would have been drummed out of the town for blasphemy, made the most of the more hospitable reception by joining the audience for a charity screening.

The tale of a Jewish man mistaken for Jesus who is eventually crucified, accompanied by a chorus of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", was roundly condemned by clergy and many other Christians on its release in 1979.

Some local authorities dusted off rarely used bylaws to either ban its screening or to slap on an X-rating. Most of the bans have been lifted or expired over time, but in Aberystwyth the order from a committee of religious leaders was never relaxed and was challenged only last year after one of the film's cast became the town's mayor.

Sue Jones-Davies, who played Brian's girlfriend, Judith Iscariot, in the film, said: "People were stopping me in the street, saying: 'Go on, Sue, get the ban lifted.'" Ms Jones-Davies added that there was no paperwork or council motions to go through to get the ban lifted and that it had just "dissolved" after she asked for the film to be shown.

She joked yesterday that she could still be arrested for organising the premiere but wasn't expecting the police to burst in. "We're still here discussing the film all these years later – and that's to its credit," she said. "It is still so relevant. I think people are ready for it. I've had some lovely letters from vicars who have said: 'Show it, and I want to be there when you do.'"

Kate Egan, a film studies lecturer from Aberystwyth University, said the film had clashed with the town's "strong church community and religious base" on its release, but added that the ban had not only "put our little town on the map" but helped publicity for the film itself, as well. "It's one of the most popular comedy films of all time. Anybody could get the DVD, but, up until now, you have not been allowed to screen it here."

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'