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The Meaning of Life
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The Meaning of Life (1983) More at IMDbPro »

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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.


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Down 9% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Graham Chapman (written by) &
John Cleese (written by) ...
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Release Date:
31 March 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 »
User Reviews:
least in the Python 'trilogy', but parts are wildly successful and memorable See more (192 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
Jane Colthorpe ... Dancer (as Jane Newman)
Charlotte Corbett ... Dancer
Geoff Davids ... Dancer
Emma-Kate Davies ... Dancer
Sandra Easby ... Dancer
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?

As Terry Gilliam was filming The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) with his own crew and sound stage, he enlarged the project and went way over budget, and what was supposed to be a 5 minute scene became a short movie between 20 and 30 minutes long. The group later decided that they couldn't use the sequence in chronological order as featured in the script, right after the staff meeting of the Very Big Corporation of America, because it would make the movie go slower. So they came up with the idea of using it at the beginning as a special presentation, and the scene as we see at the proper movie works sort of an alternative ending for that sequence. Even though they introduced the sequence as a special presentation, they edited it to be only 16 minutes long.See more »
Revealing mistakes: In the death sequence, the name at the top of the mausoleum is "nitruc" instead of "curtin", so the segment is reversed/flipped.See more »
Harry Blackitt:Look at them, bloody Catholics, filling the bloody world up with bloody people they can't afford to bloody feed.
Mrs. Blackitt:What are we dear?
Harry Blackitt:Protestant, and fiercely proud of it.
Mrs. Blackitt:Hmm. Well, why do they have so many children?
Harry Blackitt:Because... every time they have sexual intercourse, they have to have a baby.
Mrs. Blackitt:But it's the same with us, Harry.
Harry Blackitt:What do you mean?
Mrs. Blackitt:Well, I mean, we've got two children, and we've had sexual intercourse twice.
Harry Blackitt:That's not the point. We could have it any time we wanted.
Mrs. Blackitt:Really?
See more »
Penis SongSee more »


What are the differences between the Theatrical Version and the Director's Cut?
See more »
18 out of 27 people found the following review useful.
least in the Python 'trilogy', but parts are wildly successful and memorable, 15 August 2005
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Taking a slight departure from the story structure of The Holy Grail and Life of Brian, the Monty Python troupe went back to their 'Flying Circus' TV days to cook up this philosophical, musical, ultra-violent, sexual, total stream-of-consciousness look into what makes up our lives, and if there is a meaning to it. It's split up into parts, starting off with the Miracle of Birth (extending into the Miracle of Birth in the Third Role), a part on war, a part on sex, and so forth. This time Python goes even further with the outrageousness, the delayed punch-lines, the wit, almost nothing is taken prisoners. They go after religion, children, schooling, business, fat people, television, you name it, they go for it, all in the quest for the 'meaning of life'.

I saw the film twice last year, and bits on TV, and I had pretty much the same reaction the second time as the first. Like with many of Python's sketches, the strengths usually out-weigh the weaknesses, depending on who's stronger in the bit; I loved the Miracle of Birth number with Michael Palin's "Every Sperm is Sacred" song, which spirals into one of director Terry Jones's most inspired numbers; I had big belly laughs when Gilliam, as a resident, got an impromptu kidney operation, as the bystanders barely seemed affected; the Mr. Creoste sketch was crude, but blatantly over the top; the timing in the school scenes and the battlefield scenes was very sharp. But in the end, the parts are more memorable than really on the whole, un-like with the other two films.

They set themselves up for a challenge- to make a comedy successful without the sort of core that was in Holy Grail (the search by King Arthur and other knights) and Life of Brian (a man mistaken to be the messiah). Sketches and specifics in the Python world are when they're at their best, and aspects like the animation and the overall scheme of getting the punchlines (or lack thereof) right isn't affected. What can be said is that some of the bits that don't work well as others keep one wanting to get to the next best bit- luckily, this all leads up to a manic scene of Chapman running away from dozens of naked women. It's always a spectacular romp with the Pythons, and even when they're at their worst and most vile and and strange (there is one scene I have no explanation for), its watchable. Maybe some scenes, like with other comedies from my childhood that I'm still amused by, will become funnier as time goes on, like little in-jokes.

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