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Analyse a film focusing on the theme of religion

Religion and cinema are intrinsically linked.  Although the two are not formats that one would necessarily associate as sharing a relationship, it was crucial to keep in mind when researching this brief that in essence, religion and cinema are one in the same, in that they both allow, albeit in different formats, some form of worship.

Although the more conventional forms of worship and devotion take place in the mainstream religious buildings of conventional faiths, Das Gupta argues that: "Cinemas are the modern temples of our time," (1981: 130) Both focus on the devotion and the idolisation of its stars, and both focus on elements of ritual that underpin it, such as the ritual of visiting the building itself, and the ritual of taking time/money to make the effort.

As a whole, although it proved to be popular, The Life of Brian became known for the controversy attached to it, and the derision it attracted from religious quarters. However, perhaps one of the key elements to keep in mind is the fact that with its humorous take on one of the most ritualistic and violent forms of slow death the world has seen, the film is bringing the question of religion into the modern age. As Glaister argues, the film itself covers all sorts of modern issues such as health (lepers and ex-lepers) and the economy (the compulsory haggling at markets), making it an enduring piece of film that stands the test of time. (24/03/04: The Guardian) Similarly, Kermode goes on to suggest that it is the films' modernity that allowed it to "provide platforms for the serious and heated discussions of issues of faith in an increasingly materialistic, secular society." (24/12/06: The Observer) Indeed, as comedian Bill Maher argues, humour is an ideal way to bring religion into the public conscious, claiming: "Comedically, the topic of religion is hitting the side of a barn; it's literally hard to miss." (20/07/07: Entertainment Weekly)

Meanwhile, the crucifixion itself defines the film as it lampoons not only the violent ritual of crucifixion, but also the people who revere Christ for going through it. As countries from Northern Ireland to Iraq are torn apart by sectarian violence, undoubtedly one of the biggest questions surrounding religion today is how such violence can be justified. Bringing the element of humour into this argument essentially makes it easier and more accessible to understand in the modern age. As Terry Jones, director of The Life of Brian suggests, lampooning the crucifixion is perhaps in itself a comeuppance for a religion which celebrates one man's violent death, claiming:   "Any religion that makes a form of torture into an icon that they worship seems to me a pretty sick sort of religion quite honestly. " (01/01/07: Channel 4)

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