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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:
Chadwick / Jeremy Portland-Smythe
Andrew MacLachlan ...
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 »


Comedy | Musical


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 March 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life  »


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,987,000, 3 April 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (2003 restored director's cut)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Terry Gilliam filmed The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) with his own crew and sound stage. He went way over budget, and a 5-minute scene became a 30-minute short movie. The group decided that they couldn't use the sequence in chronological order as featured in the script, right after the Very Big Corporation of America staff meeting, because it would slow the movie down. They decided to use it at the beginning, as a special presentation, and it was reduced to 16 minutes. See more »


The Anglo-Zulu War scene is set in 1879, when wearing a mustache was mandatory in the British Army. Despite this, some of the soldiers (like Terry Jones's character) are seen without a mustache. See more »


Humphrey: Oh, no, do share your little joke with the rest of the class.
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Crazy Credits

At the very start of the credits, the TV starts playing the intro for series 2 of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969) and floats off into space. See more »


Referenced in The Codes of Gender (2010) See more »


Galaxy Song
Lyrics Eric Idle
Music by Eric Idle & John Du Prez
Performed by Eric Idle
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Not the Best but, it's still Python
24 January 2005 | by 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.

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