Originally called Brian Of Nazareth, this outrageous comedy has probably offended every religious denomination on Earth. It follows the Life Of Brian (Chapman), a Canaanite born near and at about the same time as Jesus Christ, and through a series of misunderstandings is mistaken for the promised Messiah.
Special features include an option to view the film with one of two commentary tracks: one featuring Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Terry Jones; the second track features John Cleese and Michael Palin. Disc Two includes the featurette Le Story Of Brian (60 minutes); five deleted scenes available with or without commentary; Script Readthrough, which is an original recording of the cast reading the early script; four illustrated, vintage, theatrical radio ads; and a photo gallery.
Compared to the Criterion Collection release that was reviewed in Issue 42, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 DVD shows an improvement in overall resolution, with a slight increase in color fidelity. Black levels are also improved but are still not great. The haziness that is noticeable in the previous releases has been cleared up somewhat. Source element artifacts have been cleaned up well, but heavy film grain can still be a distraction at times. This is the best this movie has looked on DVD, but it still is not great. The H.264 AVC-encoded Blu-ray Disc shows very impressive black levels and a wonderful sense of depth, especially considering the age of the film. Shadow delineation is good, but there is some detail lost in the darkest portions of the image. Details are captured quite well. Colors can have a dated appearance still, and source element artifacts are recognizable throughout (although they aren't overly distracting). (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack is a typical repurposing in that it has little true surround envelopment, with a basic, uninvolving mix across the front stage. Fidelity is improved some, but the soundtrack still shows signs of its age. Dialogue intelligibility is fairly good. Effects can sound thin and tinny. The soundtrack is an improvement over the previous release, but it still has its problems. The Blu-ray Disc's Dolby TrueHD encoding sounds noticeably dated, sounding thin, tinny, and distorted. It is really difficult to hear the benefits the lossless encoding may provide over the DVD's lossy encoding. (Danny Richelieu)