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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?


John Cleese has said that he considers this film "a bit of a cock-up". The other Pythons agreed that this film is not of the same quality as their two previous films. 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 »


Ainsworth: During the night, old Perkins got his leg bitten sort of... off.
Dr. Livingstone: Ah, been in the wars, have we?
Perkins: Yes.
Dr. Livingstone: Ah, any headache? Bowels all right? Hm. Well, let's have a look at this "one leg" of yours, then, eh? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes...
[Pokes the stump with his pipe]
Dr. Livingstone: Yes yes. Yes, well, this is nothing to worry about.
Perkins: Oh, good.
Dr. Livingstone: Yes, there's a lot of it around, probably a virus. Keep warm, plenty of rest, and if you're playing football or anything, try and favor the other leg.
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Crazy Credits

In the opening credits, the title is initially written as "MEANING OF LIFF", then a lightning strike corrects that to "LIFE". A book, "The Meaning of Liff", written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd was published in 1983. See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Gamera vs. Guiron (1991) See more »


Toccata und Fuge in d-Moll, BWV 565
by Johann Sebastian Bach
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Disgusting, Obscene, Disgraceful; and downright hilarious!
20 March 2008 | by See all my reviews

I was introduced to Monty Python a few weeks ago by a friend who let me borrow their movie collection on DVD. I have still got it with me, and have watched all the films at least twice. I have to admit, the humour and format is a bit out of date, but when you consider it's all over 20 years old and all still funny, you realise how ingenious it actually is. Anyhow, despite what other fans have said, this is almost certainly Monty Python's best film. Sure, it doesn't quite have the satirical cleverness of Life of Brian, sure it isn't as creative as Holy Grail, and despite the fact a lot of fans like this because it's quite similar to the flying circus show, it doesn't get as close to that as 'Now for something completely different' did (probably because that contained sketches directly from the show), and sure, John Cleese denied rewriting the script, which would of made the film even better, but it does have one thing that the show; or any of the other movies for that matter; doesn't have... Conplete and utter frequent obscenity. Seriously, from the beginning to the end it's got sexual, near blasphemous, and death based humour, but because I was watching it with my brother and not mother or any older generation, I hardly noticed. That was, until the live organ transplant scene. Seriously, that was the funniest, most shocking scene I have ever seen in Monty Python, or possibley ever. You have to watch it to get it, but damn. It's also got everything Monty Python's stuff other stuff has got, including an incredibly surreal 'middle of the film' Your'll love this film if you like Monty Pythons unique brand of humour, or if you enjoy fatalist, dark, sexual, toilet, violent, offencive or any other kind of shock value humour. Oh yeah, It's also got Boobies. I think it also contains the f-word a few times, but I don't think it was used more than in Life of Brian so from that side it was less obscene, but on the whole, this is the live-action, plot less, philosophical South Park movie.

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