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The Meaning of Life (1983)

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The comedy team takes a look at life in all its stages in their own uniquely silly way.
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chairman / Fish #1 / Doctor / Harry Blackitt / Wymer / Hordern / General / Coles / Narrator #2 / Dr. Livingstone / Transvestite / Eric / Guest #1 / Arthur Jarrett / Geoffrey / Tony Bennett
Fish #2 / Dr. Spencer / Humphrey Williams / Sturridge / Ainsworth / Waiter / Eric's Assistant / Maître D' / Grim Reaper
Window Washer / Fish #4 / Walters / Middle of the Film Announcer / M'Lady Joeline / Mr. Brown / Howard Katzenberg
Gunther / Fish #3 / 'Meaning of Life' Singer / Mr. Moore / Mrs. Blackitt / Watson / Blackitt / Atkinson / Perkins / Victim #3 / Front End / Mrs. Hendy / Man in Pink / Noël Coward / Gaston / Angela
Bert / Fish #6 / Mum / Priest / Biggs / Sergeant / Man with Bendy Arms / Mrs. Brown / Mr. Creosote / Maria / Leaf Father / Fiona Portland-Smythe
Window Washer / Harry / Fish #5 / Mr. Pycroft / Dad / Narrator #1 / Chaplain / Carter / Spadger / Regimental Sergeant Major / Pakenham-Walsh / Rear End / Female TV Presenter / Mr. Marvin Hendy / Governor / Leaf Son / Debbie Katzenberg
Beefeater Waitress / Wife of Guest #1 / Leaf Mother / Leaf Daughter / Heaven Receptionist
Mrs. Williams
Nurse #1
Andrew MacLachlan ...
Groom / Wycliff / Victim #1 / Guest #3
Mark Holmes ...
Victim #2 / Troll Waiter / Guest #2
Valerie Whittington ...
Jennifer Franks ...
Imogen Bickford-Smith ...
Nurse #2 (as Imogen Bickford Smith)


Why are we here, what's it all about? The Monty Python-team is trying to sort out the most important question on Earth: what is the meaning of life? They do so by exploring the various stages of life, starting with birth. A doctor seems more interested in his equipment than in delivering the baby or caring for the mother, a Roman Catholic couple have quite a lot of children because 'every sperm is sacred'. In the growing and learning part of life, catholic schoolboys attend a rather strange church service and ditto sex education lesson. Onto war, where an officer's plan to attack is thwarted by his underlings wanting to celebrate his birthday and an officer's leg is bitten off by presumably an African tiger. At middle age a couple orders 'philosophy' at a restaurant, after which the film continues with live organ transplants. The autumn years are played in a restaurant, which, after being treated to the song 'Isn't It Awfully Nice to Have a Penis?' by an entertainer, sees the arrival ... Written by Arnoud Tiele (imdb@tiele.nl)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What it is, Where it is, and how to avoid treading in it [Video Australia] See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 April 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (2003 restored director's cut)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Originally called "Monty Python's Fish Film". See more »


In the war sequence, the soldiers give their sergeant a clock, which is placed on the edge of the mound they are hiding behind, clearly visible. In the next shot, the clock is gone. See more »


Maitre d': And finally, a wafer thin mint.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Producers would like to thank all the fish who have taken part in this film. We hope that other fish will follow the example of those who have participated, so that, in future, fish all over the world will live together in harmony and understanding, and put aside their petty differences, cease pursuing and eating each other and live for a brighter, better future for all fish, and those who love them. See more »


Referenced in Seaman (1999) See more »


The Liberty Bell
Written by John Philip Sousa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Not the Best but, it's still Python
24 January 2005 | by (England) – See all my reviews

After The Life of Brian and The Holy Grail, this film had a lot to do to keep up. The python boys are going to explain to you the meaning of life, in the only way they know how, brilliantly and stupidly.

Not entirely linear this is like lots of mini movies, depicting the the stages of life, from birth to death, with episodes such as learning and fighting each other in between.

Each short film is well made and they all lend a comic viewpoint to there particular place in life.

My favourite is probably death (the grim reaper is just so cool), or perhaps its fighting each other, or.....What the hell there all good fun.

Don't worry about the opening movie, it nothing like the rest of the film and it does grow on you.

8/10 If you don't like python stay away, if you've never seen them, then give it a try.

31 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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