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The Meaning of Life (1983)

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

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Cast

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
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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 ...
Bride
Imogen Bickford-Smith ...
Nurse #2 (as Imogen Bickford Smith)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

It took God six days to create the earth, and Monty Python just 90 minutes to screw it up. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 March 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life  »

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2003 restored director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sensitive to the young actors in the "Every Sperm is Sacred" scene, Michael Palin actually says "those little rubber things on the end of my sock." The word "cock" was dubbed in later. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

General: But of course warfare isn't all fun. Right, stop that! It's all very well to laugh at the military, but when one considers the meaning of life, it is a struggle between alternative viewpoints of life itself. And without the ability to defend one's own viewpoint against other, perhaps more aggresive ideologies, then reasonableness and moderation could quite simply disappear. That is why we'll always need an Army, and may God strike me down were it to be otherwise.
Sergeant-Major: Don't stand there gawping! Like...
See more »

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 »

Connections

References Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

The Liberty Bell
(uncredited)
Written by John Philip Sousa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The Pythons' Last Stand
27 July 2001 | by (Plymouth, England) – See all my reviews

"The Meaning of Life" as a whole is clearly not Monty Python's best work, yet some of the individual sketches - the film is really just a big-budget sketch show - provide some of their most inspired moments. But overall, this is not the sort of swansong that befits the Monty Python legend.

Part of the problem is that, when the film was made (1983), British comedy was in the grip of the "alternative" revolution, as a new generation of comic writer/performers (Ben Elton, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, etc) were beginning their rise to stardom and making the Python brand of humour look hopelessly out-of-date - alternative comedy was essentially comedy's "punk" to the "prog-rock" of Python.

The film opens with a beautifully-shot, but utterly pointless Terry Gilliam creation, "The Crimson Permanent Assurance", which serves little purpose other than to provide a set-up for a gag later in the film. When the film proper begins, though, the familiar Pythonesque humour kicks in, and normal business is resumed, albeit patchily.

The highlights for me are the "Live Organ Transplants" sketch, in which a man has his liver forcibly removed on his own kitchen table, and "Mr Creosote", the grossly fat diner who gorges and vomits his way to an explosive demise, both of which are the type of gross-out gags which have always found a place in British humour - even today, the "League of Gentlemen" team are proudly carrying on this tradition.

Also, some of the songs in the film are among Python's best, particularly "Every Sperm Is Sacred", a wonderfully over-the-top song-and-dance number, and the cheesey "Christmas In Heaven", in which Graham Chapman gives the greatest Tony Bennett impersonation ever committed to celluloid. Unfortunately, much of the remaining material is meandering and tedious, and just serves to pad the thing out to its already over-long 107 minutes.

Python fans will find a lot to amuse them in "The Meaning of Life", but don't expect it to be another "Holy Grail" or "Life of Brian" - it isn't.


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