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The Meaning of Life (1983)

R  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy, Musical  |  31 March 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 79,659 users  
Reviews: 193 user | 60 critic

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 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


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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 March 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
See  »

Did You Know?


The "Find The Fish" sketch was filmed in the main control hall of Battersea Power Station, London. It was supposed to represent the weird dreams that we all experience from time to time. Terry Gilliam later expressed his regret that this aspect wasn't given a little more explanation. 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 and is clearly visible. In the next shot, the clock is gone. See more »


Zulu War Soldier: Here is better than home, eh, sir? I mean, at home if you kill someone they arrest you, here they'll give you a gun and show you what to do, sir. I mean, I killed fifteen of those buggers. Now, at home they'd hang me, here they'll give me a fucking medal, sir."
See more »

Crazy Credits

Not the Production Accountant....................Steve Abbott See more »


Spoofs Doctor Who (1963) See more »


Galaxy Song
Lyrics Eric Idle
Music by Eric Idle & John Du Prez
Performed by Eric Idle
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Looking For Answers? No Better Place To Look Than Here...
23 August 2004 | by (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – See all my reviews


I never really thought this was anywhere near the best work of the Pythons... but, the more I see this movie, the more I like it. People not in tune with the Python sense of humour will find this film unbearable I'm sure. (When I saw it in the theatre when it first came out there were an incredible numbers of walkouts... even *before* the infamous "Mr. Creosote" scene.) Not an actual movie so much as an extended (and expensively-produced) episode of the classic BBC TV series "Monty Python's Flying Circus"... depicting several stages in the lives of human beings, from birth to death. There are some hilarious bits (the sex education class, Death crashing a dinner party), some clever bits (the opening fish skit, the show-stopping dance number "Every Sperm is Sacred") and some just plain gross, disgusting bits (Mr. Creosote, organ donations). Plus, the movie has its own special short subject "The Crimson Permanent Assurance"... where an accounting office staffed by aging workerbees suddenly metamorphosizes into a pirate ship! Most people find this bit incredibly boring and pointless... but, dang, its cleverly done!

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