IMDb > The Meaning of Life (1983)
The Meaning of Life
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

The Meaning of Life (1983) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 49 | slideshow) Videos (see all 3)
The Meaning of Life -- Monty Python takes a witty British look at Life and its meaning from birth to death and beyond, through a series of sketches which are brilliant and hilarious.
The Meaning of Life -- Trailer for Monty Pythons The Meaning of Life
The Meaning of Life -- The comedy team takes a look at life in all its stages in their own uniquely silly way.


User Rating:
7.6/10   81,807 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
Popularity: ?
Down 20% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Graham Chapman (written by) &
John Cleese (written by) ...
View company contact information for The Meaning of Life on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1 April 1983 (USA) See more »
What it is, Where it is, and how to avoid treading in it [Video Australia] See more »
The comedy team takes a look at life in all its stages in their own uniquely silly way. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination See more »
(158 articles)
Blu-ray Review – Absolutely Anything (2015)
 (From Flickeringmyth. 8 December 2015, 11:30 PM, PST)

[Review] By the Sea
 (From The Film Stage. 13 November 2015, 6:08 AM, PST)

James Bond 007: revisiting Skyfall
 (From Den of Geek. 23 October 2015, 11:54 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
A great comedy which may be crass and rude, but is not lacking in typical Python wit See more (194 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Graham Chapman ... Chairman / Fish #1 / Doctor / Harry Blackitt / Wymer / Hordern / General / Coles / Narrator #2 / Dr. Livingstone / Transvestite / Eric / Guest #1 / Arthur Jarrett / Geoffrey / Tony Bennett

John Cleese ... Fish #2 / Dr. Spencer / Humphrey Williams / Sturridge / Ainsworth / Waiter / Eric's Assistant / Maître D' / Grim Reaper

Terry Gilliam ... Window Washer / Fish #4 / Walters / Middle of the Film Announcer / M'Lady Joeline / Mr. Brown / Howard Katzenberg

Eric Idle ... 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

Terry Jones ... Bert / Fish #6 / Mum / Priest / Biggs / Sergeant / Man with Bendy Arms / Mrs. Brown / Mr. Creosote / Maria / Leaf Father / Fiona Portland-Smythe

Michael Palin ... 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

Carol Cleveland ... Beefeater Waitress / Wife of Guest #1 / Leaf Mother / Leaf Daughter / Heaven Receptionist

Simon Jones ... Chadwick / Jeremy Portland-Smythe

Patricia Quinn ... Mrs. Williams

Judy Loe ... Nurse #1
Andrew MacLachlan ... Groom / Wycliff / Victim #1 / Guest #3
Mark Holmes ... Victim #2 / Troll Waiter / Guest #2
Valerie Whittington ... Mrs. Moore
Jennifer Franks ... Bride
Imogen Bickford-Smith ... Nurse #2 (as Imogen Bickford Smith)
Angela Mann ... Wife of Guest #2
Peter Lovstrom ... Brown's Son
George Silver ... Diner Eating Howard the Fish
Chris Grant
Sydney Arnold ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Guy Bertrand ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")

Andrew Bicknell ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Ross Davidson ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Myrtle Devenish ... Old Lady (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Tim Douglas ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Eric Francis ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")

Matt Frewer ... Cornered Executive who Jumps (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Billy John ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")

Russell Kilmister ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Peter Mantle ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Len Marten ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Peter Merrill ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Cameron Miller ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Gareth Milne ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Larry Noble ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Paddy Ryan ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Leslie Sarony ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
John Scott Martin ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Eric Stovell ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Wally Thomas ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Jack Armstrong ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Robert Carrick ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Douglas Cooper ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
George Daly ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Chick Fowles ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Terry Grant ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Robin Hewlett ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Tommy Isley ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Juba Kennerley ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Anthony Lang ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance") (as Tony Lang)
John Murphy ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Terry Rendell ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Ronald Shilling ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Albert Welch ... (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Luke Baxter ... Dancer
Stephen Beasley ... Dancer (as Stephen Beagley)
Paul Bourke ... Dancer
Bonnie Bryg ... Dancer
Charlotte Corbett ... Dancer
Geoff Davids ... Dancer
Emma-Kate Davies ... Dancer
Sandra Easby ... Dancer
Jane Eve ... Dancer (as Jane Newman)
Donna Fielding ... Dancer
Roy Hamlyn Gayle ... Dancer (as Roy Gayle)
Dawn Gerrard ... Dancer
Natascha Gilbrooke ... Dancer (as Natasha Gilbrook)
Donnette Goddard ... Dancer
Heavon Grant ... Dancer
Alison Jane Hierlihy ... Dancer (as Alison Herlihy)
Laura James ... Dancer
Kim Elizabeth Leeson ... Dancer (as Kim Leeson)
Maddie Loftin ... Dancer
Michelle Mackie ... Dancer
Paul Madden ... Dancer
Helen Mason ... Dancer
Caroline Meacher ... Dancer
Lorraine Meacher ... Dancer
Sue Menhenick ... Dancer
Kerri Murphy ... Dancer
Tammy Needham ... Dancer
Garry Noakes ... Dancer (as Gary Noakes)
Trudy Pack ... Dancer
Floyd Anthony Pearce ... Dancer (as Floyd Pearce)
Wanda Rokicki ... Dancer (as Wanda Rockiki)
Peter Salmon ... Dancer
Lizie Saunderson ... Dancer
Steve St. Klonis ... Dancer
Voyd ... Dancer
Timothy Ward ... Dancer
Michelle Welch ... Dancer
Gess Whitfield ... Dancer
Lorraine Whitmarsh ... Dancer
Dominique Wood ... Dancer
Carole Anne ... Topless Pursuer (uncredited)
Lynne Hazelden ... Student Doctor (uncredited)

Jane Leeves ... Dancer (uncredited)
Cy Town ... Restaurant Diner (uncredited)

Directed by
Terry Jones 
Terry Gilliam (animation and special sequence)
Writing credits
Graham Chapman (written by) &
John Cleese (written by) &
Terry Gilliam (written by) &
Eric Idle (written by) &
Terry Jones (written by) &
Michael Palin (written by)

Produced by
John Goldstone .... producer
Original Music by
John Du Prez 
Cinematography by
Peter Hannan 
Roger Pratt (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Film Editing by
Julian Doyle 
Casting by
Michelle Guish 
Debbie McWilliams 
Production Design by
Harry Lange 
Art Direction by
John Beard (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Richard Dawking 
Set Decoration by
Sharon Cartwright 
Simon Wakefield 
Costume Design by
James Acheson  (as Jim Acheson)
Makeup Department
Elaine Carew .... makeup artist (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Sallie Evans .... hairdresser (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Mary Hillman .... makeup supervisor
Mike Jones .... hairdresser
Mike Jones .... makeup artist
Pamela Rayson .... hairdresser
Pamela Rayson .... makeup artist
Hilary Steinberg .... hairdresser
Hilary Steinberg .... makeup artist
Maureen Stephenson .... hairdresser (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Christopher Tucker .... makeup artist: Mr. Creosote (as Chris Tucker)
Maggie Weston .... hair designer
Maggie Weston .... makeup designer
Production Management
David Wimbury .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jonathan Benson .... first assistant director (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Matthew Binns .... second assistant director (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Ray Corbett .... first assistant director
Derek Harrington .... third assistant director (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Callum McDougall .... third assistant director
Kieron Phipps .... key second assistant director
Paul Taylor .... third assistant director (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Gary White .... first assistant director (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Bob Wright .... second assistant director (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance") (as Bobby Wright)
Art Department
Peter Browne .... construction department
Roger Cain .... art department
Alan Chesters .... construction department
John Cole .... properties
Mel Coleman .... construction department (as Melvin Coleman)
Steve Cooper .... art department
Peter Cull .... construction department
Dennis Griffin .... art department
Richard Hornsby .... art department
Brian Humphrey .... properties
Tommy Kavanagh .... construction department
Reginald Keywood .... construction department (as Reg Keywood)
Mick Law .... construction department
Colin Lovering .... construction department
Dave Newton .... properties
Brian Payne .... properties
Ken Powell .... construction department
Bill Sansom .... construction department
Dick Savery .... construction department
Vic Simpson .... construction manager
John Skinner .... construction department
Bob Walker .... art department
Andrew Ackland-Snow .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Gari Bacon .... props (uncredited)
Gerry Bourke .... props (uncredited)
Dennis Murray .... plasterer (uncredited)
Martin Smeaton .... model sculptor (uncredited)
Sound Department
Paul Carr .... dubbing mixer
Philip Chubb .... sound maintenance (as Phil Chubb)
Bob Doyle .... boom operator
Rodney Glenn .... dubbing editor
Debbie Kaplan .... sound (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Garth Marshall .... sound mixer
Brian Paxton .... dubbing mixer
Special Effects by
Richard Conway .... special effects
George Gibbs .... special effects supervisor
Ray Hanson .... special effects
Bob Hollow .... special effects
David Watson .... special effects
Terence J. Cox .... special effects technician (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Michael Beard .... model maker (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Valerie Charlton .... model maker (as Val Charlton)
Carol De Jong .... model maker (as Carole De Yong)
Nick Dunlop .... optical effects
Roy Field .... optical effects
Kent Houston .... optical effects
Peter Pullen .... model maker (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Tim Spence .... optical effects
Paul Whitbread .... optical effects
Janice Body .... visual effects assistant (uncredited)
Martin Body .... rotoscope artist (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
David Appleby .... still photographer
Fred Ashby .... electrical department
Kenneth Atherfold .... grip (as Ken Atherfold)
Barry Brown .... focus puller
John Clark .... electrician (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Clive Coote .... still photographer (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Mark Cridlin .... clapper loader (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Tony Cridlin .... grip (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Chuck Finch .... gaffer
Dewi Humphreys .... camera operator
John Ignatius .... focus puller (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Sue Knight .... clapper loader (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Alan McPherson .... electrical department
Stewart Monteith .... electrical department
Reg Parsons .... best boy (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Larry Randall .... electrical department
Roy Rodhouse .... gaffer (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Richard Seal .... electrical department
Malcolm Smith .... grip (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Stefan Stankowski .... clapper loader
Toby Tyler .... electrician (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
George White .... electrician (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance") (as Geo. J. White)
Kevin Brookner .... video operator (uncredited)
Animation Department
Jill Brooks .... animator
Kate Hepburn .... animator
Richard Ollive .... animator
Tim Ollive .... animator
Mike Stuart .... animator
Costume and Wardrobe Department
William Baboo .... costume maker
Vin Burnham .... costume maker
Shirley Denny .... costume maker
Linda Eke .... wardrobe department
Gilly Hebden .... costume assistant
Janet Lucas .... wardrobe department
Stephen Miles .... costume assistant (as T. Stephen Miles)
David Murch .... wardrobe department
Ray Scott .... costume maker
Joyce Stoneman .... wardrobe (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Jill Thraves .... costume maker
James Wakely .... wardrobe department (as James Wakley)
Lizzie Willey .... costume maker
Editorial Department
Roy Baker .... editing department
Margarita Doyle .... editing department
Keith Lowes .... editing department
Simon Milton .... editing department
Diane Ryder .... editing department
Other crew
Steve Abbott .... not the production accountant
Patricia Carr .... production assistant (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Valerie Craig .... production assistant
Penny Eyles .... continuity
William Hobbs .... fight arranger (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Barbara Holloway .... assistant to producer
Anne James .... python manager
Maggie Jones .... continuity (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Peter Kohn .... location manager
Nancy Lewis .... director of python US relations
Arlene Phillips .... choreographer
Heather Seymour .... assistant choreographer
Mike Smith .... production accountant
Paul Taylor .... production department
Tim Vaughan-Hughes .... assistant to producer
Robin Demetriou .... catering supervisor (uncredited)
Adam Samuelson .... louma crane technician (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial Effects
  • Random (model makers) (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
  • Westbridge Studios (model makers) (segment "The Crimson Permanent Assurance")
Other Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" - UK (complete title), USA (complete title)
See more »
107 min | Germany:112 min (2003 restored director's cut)
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Australia:M | Brazil:18 | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Canada:R (original rating) | Canada:18A (re-rating) | Canada:18 (Nova Scotia) (re-rating) (2003) | Finland:K-16 | Iceland:12 | Ireland:15 (re-rating) | Ireland:(Banned) (original rating) (1983-1990) | Italy:VM14 | Malaysia:(Banned) | Netherlands:6 | New Zealand:R16 | Norway:16 (original rating) | Norway:15 (re-rating) | Portugal:M/18 | Singapore:M18 (cut) | Sweden:15 | UK:18 (original rating) | UK:15 (video re-rating) (2000) | USA:R (Certificate No. 26970) | West Germany:16
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

The names of companies owned by the Very Big Corporation of America (listed on the wall in the board room and being added to by the sign painter) are a repeating list, some of which are puns or in-jokes having to do with events in the rest of the movie. They are: - Acme Construction Company - Payne, Bickers and Dogood Ltd. - Stn. Pendons Ltd. - V. Rich and Son - Doneys (Florence) - Mirage Land Co. - Arctic Geo. Lab. Co. - Liver Donors Inc. - World Wide Wine Corp. - Universal Amalgamations Ltd. - Consolidated Steel Co. - Micro Computer Inc. - Moonscape Products Ltd. - Rubber Goods Incorporated - D.Odgey Enterprises Ltd. - Money Factor Printers Ltd. - Better Plastics Corps. - D. Crepid Holdings - Super Big Ltd. - Space Propulsion Lab - Interstellar Travel Corp. - Dawking's Mining Co. - Lange and Sons (International) - Cooper's (Purveyors) - Dickinson Kincain Association - The All Enveloping Co. Ltd. - O. Verpaid Associates Ltd. - E. Normons and Sons - A. Maze and Lee - Huge Horace Mann and Yure Ltd. - R. Devious Inc. - Wakefeld and Daughter - Vast Holdings (Europe) Ltd. - Phil Thevich Consortium - Fastness and Vast Co. Ltd - Star Bright Merchandise Org. - X. Tortion World Wide Ltd. - Cartwright Tutorials - Black and White Picture Co. Ltd. - R. J. McArthur Parks Ltd. - Walker, Walker and Jones Bros. - Data Travel and Experiments (list repeats)See more »
Continuity: At the start of the miracle of birth section, the mother is traveling head first. Just before she leaves the corridor, the shot from the gurney indicates that she is moving feet first.See more »
Strange Man:I wonder where that fish has gone!
Transvestite:You did love it so! You looked after it like a son!
Strange Man:[Bends perplexingly long arms]
Strange Man:And it went... where-ever I... did go!
Transvestite:Is it in the cupboard?
Audience:Yes! Yes!
Transvestite:Wouldn't you like to know? It was a lovely little fish!
Transvestite:And it went... where-ever I... did go!
Audience:It's behind the sofa!
Transvestite:Where can that fish be?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Spoofed in European Vacation (1985)See more »
Oh Lord Please Don't Burn UsSee more »


What are the differences between the Theatrical Version and the Director's Cut?
See more »
18 out of 23 people found the following review useful.
A great comedy which may be crass and rude, but is not lacking in typical Python wit, 11 January 2008
Author: ametaphysicalshark from

The best thing about "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" is without a doubt the short film that opens it. Directed by Terry Gilliam and originally conceived as an animated sequence, "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is a crucial step in Gilliam's career as a director. His previous two solo efforts as director, the inconsequential "Jabberwocky" and the brilliant-in-its-own-way "Time Bandits" saw him developing his visual style much further than he did for his scenes for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", with "Time Bandits" arguably being the first 'Gilliam-esque' film he made. Still, "Time Bandits" didn't see his style fully developed, and "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is an even more bizarre film, but with a far more confident and clear-cut visual style. Simply put: Gilliam was ready for "Brazil". This segment is the best in the film from a cinematic viewpoint, without a doubt, and even gives some of the other segments a run for their money in terms of the quality of the comedy, which involves office clerks who become pirates. Yes, it is quite strange.

The issue a lot of people have with "The Meaning of Life" is that it is crass and rude and even sillier than the Python standard. It's shock humor, but for the majority of the sections of the film work so well and are so clever even in their lack of class that I would not hesitate to put "The Meaning of Life" on the same level as "Life of Brian", though it's not as good as "Monty Python & The Holy Grail". That's not to say this isn't 'Python-esque', because it's very much so, they're just completely liberated by the medium of film to say and do whatever they please. Indeed, there's something in here to offend nearly anyone, but there's also a fair bit in here to please everyone, even a wonderful scene in which Gilliam's 'supporting feature' "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" suddenly intrudes on the events of the film.

"The Meaning of Life" is constructed as a series of skits, and though many have suggested that it is hence not as much of a narrative movie as their previous two efforts. I tend to disagree with this viewpoint. Yes, this film is a series of skits, but they are all elaborately set up within an overarching 'commentary' on the general theme of the movie, the title. There is one section of the film which is both entirely unnecessary and honestly quite bad is 'The Autumn Years', an unfunny and vile piece centered around Terry Jones in a fat-suit repeatedly vomiting and eventually exploding. Basically all of the rest of the film is very, very funny, and even the jokes which fall flat within scenes like "Live Organ Transplants" and "Death" don't go terribly wrong because the overall quality of the scenes and sections are so high and the concepts behind them very funny. Gilliam's animations work excellently within the film and this would sadly be the last time we saw a distinctive Gilliam animation within a major film.

"The Meaning of Life" is great comedy. It's crass and rude and goes for cheap humor often, but it's mostly handled with a great deal of wit and intelligence that elevates even the section involving the world's most pornographic sex education class to a high level. Perhaps in retrospect this film's flaws are more obvious than those "Life of Brian" suffers from, but both are ultimately on the same level.


Was the above review useful to you?
See more (194 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for The Meaning of Life (1983)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Marching up and down the square dnasty68
someone illuminate me (creepy side to this movie) Teven
Favorite bit? grantcatton
Ringo Starr? JackietheStripper
Picture of Haile Selassie? Bob_Schuka
The mint in the Mr Creosote scene... that_first_step
See more »


If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
Life of Brian Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl Monty Python and the Holy Grail Fellini Satyricon And Now for Something Completely Different
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Comedy section IMDb UK section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.