Mayor wants Python film ban ended

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Ian Pegler
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

Ian Pegler wrote:OK so hands up anyone who dowses that there is no ban on the Life of Brian in Aberystwyth ??

Any takers?

Ian
Oh dear ! "Silence" came the stern reply !

Does this mean that everyone dowses that the ban really does exist? Tell us your views.

Recently I found a link to the Radio 4 interview with Sue Jones Davies. Apparently she was told about this "ban" by the BBC.

So who told the BBC?

CLICK HERE to hear the audio (requires RealPlayer).

Ian
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by arthur hamlin »

Okay, so I have heard the audio player and still do not know why the ban was imposed in the first place.
30 years ago is a long time ago to make any comment let alone make a vote as to whether a ban is still in place as many of us will not have seen that episode.
Perhaps we need a re-cap as to what was so or seemingly so controversal at the time for us to give any comment or vote.
Not long ago Salmon Rushdie brought out his controversial work but look at the disturbances that caused.
Interestingly I used to live in Aberporth approx 30 miles south from Aberystwyth with my parents during the last war ( blimey that ages me). Here I experienced american troops marching down the road, and Italian POW`s working on my Father`s farm.
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Satyr »

Ian Pegler wrote:OK so hands up anyone who dowses that there is no ban on the Life of Brian in Aberystwyth ??

Any takers?

Ian
Okay, I'm game... (seems a bit of a weird thing to dowse for but on a boring monday morning, weird can be fun hehehe).

My dowsing says there is NO ban.
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

Perhaps we need a re-cap as to what was so or seemingly so controversal at the time for us to give any comment or vote.
As I understand it the campaign of hysteria kicked off even before a line of the script had been written because Eric Idle had made some of-the-cuff remark to a reporter whilst he was getting drunk in a bar with Terry Gilliam. The reporter had asked what their next movie was going to be about to which Eric responded with something like:

"It's going to be called 'Jesus Christ, Lust for Glory' "

This was intended to be a joke - it's a pun on "Patton, Lust for Glory" as that film was known in the UK.

Evidently the reporter didn't quite get the joke and reported it verbatim.

But at that time not a single line of script had been written. True to the Python way of doing things, they generated vast amounts of material, most of which was thrown out. Even the final film had scenes which were shot but eventually deleted from the final cut.

The movie which eventually emerged has the central character Brian, played by the late Grahame Chapman, who is mistaken for the Messiah.

This happens twice in his life, once when Brian is a baby (the three Wise Men mistakenly walk into the wrong manger, only to realise their mistake a few moments later) and once as an adult, by a crowd of people who decide that he must be the Messiah.

The humour comes from the crowd who decide to follow Brian. It is the crowd that the Pythons are poking fun at, not Brian. Unfortunately this point is lost on the film's detractors.

Brian is attracted to a female revolutionary (Judith Iscariot, played by Sue Jones Davies) who is a member of a group called the People's Front of Judea. This is the reason he joins this band of rather useless rebels.

Eventually he is arrested and crucified by the Romans (a common form of punishment in the days of the Roman empire - Kirk Douglas's Spartacus was crucified also).

Apparently an early draft of the script was leaked to Mary Whitehouse who started campaigning against it. Primarily this took the form of letter-writing to Christian groups around the country. This lead to protests, and apparently, if the story is to be believed it was banned here in Aber. We had a lot more active chapels back then, many of which have closed down, and one of which recently burned down (it had been closed for years).

One of the bars at the top end of town "The Academy" is a converted chapel. Times have changed and that's just the way it is. The Reverend Bell is typical of many Brian detractors in this respect - he never saw the film and was subject to the whisper campaign against it. Another local councilor even compared Life of Brian to the Exorcist, but that was many years ago. More of that anon.

Ian


Edited by I.P. 22.10.08 - removed extra parenthesis

Edited by I.P. 20.2.09 - corrected "early draft of the film" to "early draft of the script"
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

Satyr wrote:My dowsing says there is NO ban.
An interesting result ! Anyone else ?

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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Geoff Stuttaford »

Oh dear ! I get a 'Yes'
Geoff

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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by arthur hamlin »

Thanks for the brief description Ian, but have to say that seeing the film clips would have made it easier to make personel conclusions. I also feel it is not always what is said but the way it is said that might have caused controversy.
But I do remember John Cleese in a clip entitled `Department of Silly Walks` when he was attired in black suite, bowler hat and brief case and when his legs were like rubber going across the road.
Like Geoff I get the ban is still in place.
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

There are plenty of clips on Youtube. (DISCLAIMER: the BSD is not responsible for the content of external sites).

The only question I am interested in is whether dowsers think that the ban is in still place or not (that's if it was ever banned in the first place). Yes, the film is controversial, I know that already, but people are bound to have different points of view (or prejudices) because any movie-going experience is partly subjective.

Except of course that the vast majority of Brian's detractors never saw the film. They were offended even before they saw it, and based their opinions on hearsay and Chinese whispers.

Ian

Edited by I.P. 28.11.08 - changed Monty Python link
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

I thought you might like to know that I've been doing some research on this.

I recently went to the National Library of Wales and discovered some old newspaper articles which suggest that, contrary to the recent reports, The Life of Brian was cleared for viewing in public cinemas in Ceredigion as long ago as 1981 !!!

The NLW, by yet more serendipity, is based in Aberystwyth and I happen to have a reader's ticket. All the old editions of our local newspaper, The Cambrian News, are there stored on microfilm.

The reports are to be found in the South Edition of the Cambrian News - this is the version that covers our area and all date to 1981. Here are the details:

February 13th (a Friday!!), 1981 - Life of Brian makes mockery of the Bible says councillor

This report reveals the The Life of Brian was to be previewed by a sub committee of five councillors in the Pavilion cinema in Cardigan (does this still exist?) because the proprietor, a Mr. F. C. Fry, had requested to show the film. However, one local councillor wanted to ban the film without even seeing it first. He described Life of Brian in the following terms:
It's a quite despicable film and goes against my own principles and upbringing. It would undoubtedly have a corrupting influence on the young people of this district.
He goes on to say how he met a young man who had broken "nearly every bone in his body" after he had sleep-walked through a bedroom window having watched The Exorcist in Carmarthen. In relation to this he says:
If this is the type of affect these films have on young people, we should turn this one [i.e. Life of Brian] down here and now and not bother to go and see it.
How he makes the link between The Exorcist and The Life of Brian is way beyond me.

The next report appeared the following month:

March 6th, 1981 - Five Wise Men pass Brian for the public

The title says it all really. The "five wise men" were a sub-committee of councillors, whose names were:

O. M. Owen, J. E. Evans, Rev. I. Evans, R. J. Evans, and W. A. Jenkins.

Judging from the photo, none of them could be described as young, and one of them was a vicar. In spite of this, they actually PASSED Life of Brian for viewing in Ceredigion. Here is part of the press release:
The Sub-Committee therefore decided after very careful deliberation, that although
they personally had found parts of the film quite unacceptable, they did not feel that they
could depart from the normal practice of allowing films with certificates of the British
Board to be shown.

They therefore decided to allow "The Life of Brian" to be shown in Ceredigion. [my emphasis added].
The next edition of the Cambrian News ran an advert for the Commodore Cinema which indicates that Monty Python's Life of Brian ran for six days from Monday, March 16th. It was shown - perfectly legally - twice nightly on Wednesday and Saturday and once only on other days.

So there you have it, a genuine scoop, and you heard it first on the BSD forum. Please feel free to spread the word.

Ian

Edited by I.P. 14.09.08 - expanded bit on the man who watched the Exorcist in Carmarthen
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Satyr »

Satyr wrote:
Ian Pegler wrote:OK so hands up anyone who dowses that there is no ban on the Life of Brian in Aberystwyth ??

Any takers?

Ian
Okay, I'm game... (seems a bit of a weird thing to dowse for but on a boring monday morning, weird can be fun hehehe).

My dowsing says there is NO ban.
Soooo, it sounds like I was right when I posted the above (is Ceredigion in Aberystwyth? - sorry I don't like in the UK)
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

Soooo, it sounds like I was right when I posted the above (is Ceredigion in Aberystwyth? - sorry I don't like in the UK)
Other way around. Aberystwyth is in Ceredigion.

But yes, basically you got it right.

Ceredigion is the old Welsh name for the county of Cardiganshire, which in the '70's became part of Dyfed. Now it's back to Ceredigion.

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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

I was delighted to read this report from the BBC:
Students in hotels as halls full

Students arriving at university for the first time are to be housed temporarily in hotels and guest houses after a record surge in recruitment.
...
This represents an 18% rise in numbers, compared to an average increase of 2.7% in Wales and 8.8% across the UK.
...
Last year, a student survey found that Aberystwyth was the UK's favourite university town.
CLICK HERE to read the article. :P

Ian
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

I also distinctly remember someone writing in to the local newspaper complaining that on one evening the film had snapped and they all sat there in the gloom waiting for it to be fixed. Did I dream all this?
I did also manage to dig up this letter to the Cambrian News, dated 27th of March 1981.

There was indeed a technical fault during one of the showings (March 18th, 1981) but there is no indication as to its nature whatsoever.

It just shows the fallibility of human memory. However, my memory of these events dating back to the early 1980's was, as it turned out, more-or-less accurate, albeit not in every detail.

It was only about 30 years ago, but it feels more like 130...!

P.S. In the March 6th edition, 1981, of the Cambrian News, there was a letter to the editor on another subject. However the letter ends off with the following...
Whilst pen in hand, a word for Tom Raw Rees and his protest about the Life of Brian. You are
a brave man! I stand with you.

Yours etc.,

Stuard R. Bell [sic]
The Vicarage,
Aberaeron,
Dyfed.
Ian

Edited by I.P. 30.9.08 - added year to a date for clarity
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

from the BBC...
Monty Python fans in a Devon resort are to be given the chance to watch a classic comedy film, nearly 30 years after it was effectively banned there.
CLICK HERE to read the article.

Ian
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Re: Mayor wants Python film ban ended

Post by Ian Pegler »

Relating to the Torbay ban, which has now been lifted, I found the following article from the Times Online...
Officials at Torbay Council, which covers the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, were hurriedly forced to check back through dusty piles of minutes to confirm the ban. They eventually concluded, however, that subsequent legislation meant it no longer applied.
CLICK HERE to read the article.

Ian
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