Comedy documentary aims to demolish religion

22nd September


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Comedy documentary aims to demolish religion

Religulous poster A new 'documentary' by the man behind Borat will open in New York at the beginning of next month. Provocatively titled Religulous (think 'religious' and 'ridiculous'), it will mock the beliefs of the world's major religions, recruiting unwitting assistance from the ranks of the faithful.

The project has already inspired protests at its premiere at the Toronto film festival earlier this month, and US satirist Bill Maher and director Larry Charles have been accused of misleading participants. Maher has conceded that several sleights of hand were necessary to persuade people to perform.

Unlike Borat, both Charles and Maher have made it clear that, while they were looking for comic potential from their engagements with believers, their ultimate aim was not to poke gentle fun but to demolish.

Employing the same robust approach as Supersize Me and Bowling For Columbine, Religulous sees Maher challenge his interview subjects over their knowledge of the literal historic facts of their religions.

In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Maher described the type of audience he hoped to provoke: 'Any religious person. The point is to question what is usually made to be unquestionable in this country. Normally if you say the word "faith", the debate is over - no matter what incredibly nonsensical, destructive, ridiculous tenet comes out of your mouth.

The determination to offend is not limited to the US market. A specially commissioned international poster, unveiled this month, depicts three monkeys as a rabbi, the Pope and an imam.

So far it appears to have been the Roman Catholic church that is threatening to take the most offence, perhaps because of Maher's connection.

Bill Donahue, the president of the Catholic League, said: The problem is not the poster. It's Bill Maher. He has said some of the most vile things. He can say all he wants about being ecumenical, but it's only one religion he really has it out for, and it's the Catholic religion.


5th March

Update: Putting the Mockers on Religion...

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Comedy documentary passed 15 uncut by the BBFC

Religulous poster The new 'documentary' by the man behind Borat has been passed 15 uncut by the BBFC. Provocatively titled Religulous (think 'religious' and 'ridiculous'), it will mock the beliefs of the world's major religions, recruiting unwitting assistance from the ranks of the faithful.

The BBFC helpfully explained their decision:

Religulous is a documentary by Bill Maher, an American comedian, on the beliefs and practices of the major religions. It was passed '15' for strong language, drug use and sexualised nudity.

The film questions the tenets of all the major religions in a mocking fashion but with some serious intentions underlying it. A number of the dialogues contain strong language and one quite explicitly refers to paedpohilia involving Catholic priests. As part of his global exploration Maher conducts several conversations in a Dutch coffee house and samples a marijuana cigarette. BBFC Policy and Guidelines allow for scenes of drug taking at '15', but does not allow the promotion of illegal drug use at any category. This film, as a whole, does not promote or encourage drug use.
As part of the ironic style of the film, excerpts from unrelated and dated features are inserted in order to make humorous statements. Examples of these include soft porn style shots of a naked man and another caressing a naked woman. The film also contains some strong dialogue references to sex acts. More conventional techniques include the insertion of reality footage of terrorist attacks, including 9/11, the London bombings and sight of the corpse of the Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh.


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