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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


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:

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
See  »

Did You Know?


Jane Leeves's film debut. She is one of the dancers in the "Christmas in Heaven" number. See more »


When The Grim Reaper talks to the couple and their dinner guests, the boom mic moves along the fabric ceiling. See more »


Father: [singing] Every sperm is sacred/Every sperm is great/If a sperm is wasted/God gets quite irate.
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 »


Referenced in Cannibal! The Musical (1993) See more »


Accountancy Shanty
Music and Lyrics by Eric Idle & John Du Prez
Performed by Russell Kilmister and chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Michael Palin sums it up best.
13 July 1999 | by (L.A. CA) – See all my reviews

The Meaning of Life finds the Monty Python boys going back to their Flying Circus roots in a film that examines the many stages of life, and reduces them all to the absurdity that one would expect from these six loons. A very neat short film from Terry Gilliam starts off this search for the meaning of life and we go from birth, to examining the benefits of being a Prostestant. From there we are treated to war, live organ transplants, a very bizarre middle section of the film, sex education, Terry Jones puking and exploding in what has to be one of the most disgusting but extremely funny scenes ever committed to film. It all leads up to death, and I personally like Grahm Chapman's way of execution. It all winds up in Heaven, where every day is Christmas and it's all set up like a Las Vegas lounge show. At the end, Michael Palin gives us the meaning of life. I think he's right.

22 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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