The Meaning of Life (1983) Poster


Jump to: Cameo (2) | Spoilers (3)
Terry Jones spent most of the budget on the "Every Sperm Is Sacred" sequence. The rest of the team found out later.
The kids who sang in the "Every Sperm is Sacred" sketch later said they had no idea what they were singing about.
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.
Michael Palin's line, "Hey, but I didn't eat the mousse," was not in the script.
Python refused to show Universal Studios a film script, figuring, as Eric Idle said, "If we couldn't work out how to make a Monty Python film, they couldn't tell us." Instead they showed them a poem, which was a summary of the film, and a budget projection. "And to their credit," says Idle, "they paid for the film on that." Idle recites the poem on the DVD version of the movie.
"The Crimson Permanent Assurance" segment was filmed as if it were a completely separate project. Terry Gilliam got his own soundstage, crew and cast. This segment continued to expand because, according to Gilliam, nobody told him to stop.
John Cleese has said that he considers this film a bit of a cock-up". The other Pythons agreed that this film is not of the same quality as their two previous films.
Graham Chapman, who was openly gay, asked to play God in this movie because he was frustrated at the Church of England for refusing to marry him and his partner, David Sherlock. At the time same-sex marriage was not legal in the United Kingdom, or recognized by the Church of England.
Originally called "Monty Python's Fish Film".
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 everyone experiences from time to time. Terry Gilliam later expressed regret that it wasn't explained clearly.
The only character to appear in all three Monty Python films is God.
In the Find The Fish sketch, the green, elephant-like waiter is a leftover costume from Time Bandits (1981).
John Cleese had food poisoning while shooting the Tiger sequence. He would run outside and vomit between takes.
According to Terry Gilliam, before the Pythons decided to make a sketch movie about the meaning of life, two ideas were considered for the movie. The first was "Monty Python's World War III", with sponsored armies and soldiers wearing military uniforms full of advertisements. Another idea was the Pythons being tried for fraud, accused of making a tax dodge, not a movie. They spend the entire movie trying to prove that they're shooting an adaptation of "Hamlet" in the Caribbean. At the end, they're found guilty and sentenced to execution, and each one of them gets to decide how they're going to die. The idea was used in the death sketch, where Arthur Jarrett has chosen to die while pursued by naked girls.
Terry Jones wrote the "Mr. Creosote" sketch with Terry Gilliam in mind to play the title character. Gilliam convinced Jones that he should do it himself.
This movie won the Special Jury Grand prize at the Cannes film festival. In "Monty Python Live at Aspen", John Cleese joked that it might have been because Orson Welles, who was on the judging panel, identified with Mr. Creosote.
During the opening sequence, the title is struck by lightning on the bottom of the final "e". The resulting words, "The Meaning Of Liff", is also the title of a book written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, published in 1983. John Lloyd explained in a BBC Radio 4 documentary celebrating its 30th anniversary of publication, that Douglas Adams had called Terry Jones to ask if he could title their book to (almost) match the film's title. Adam's idea was that the potential confusion of titles would help sell the book. Notably, Adams was the only "Official Unofficial Member" of Monty Python.
While writing this film, the Pythons decided to take a break and put on some shows at the Hollywood Bowl. They were filmed and released as Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982).
Jane Leeves's film debut. She is one of the dancers in the "Christmas in Heaven" number.
During an interview to promote the film when it was first released, one Python said the meaning of life concept was the only way they could think of to tie together a lot of unrelated sketch material.
The "Mr. Creosote" scene was roundly rejected on its initial read-through. John Cleese saved it a few weeks later, after realizing the waiter was the funniest part.
The score for "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" segment was inspired by the works of Erich Wolfgang Korngold, especially his score for the pirate epic The Sea Hawk (1940).
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Graham Chapman opens the door to Death, and is the first person to speak to him. In real life, Chapman was the first member of Monty Python to die.
For "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" segment, the real building used for the location shoot was Lloyd's Register of Shipping headquarters in London, on the corner of Fenchurch Street and Lloyd's Avenue. It can be seen most clearly in the weigh anchor sequence.
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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)
Terry Gilliam filmed The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) with his own crew and sound stage. He went way over budget, and a 5-minute scene became a 30-minute short movie. The group decided that they couldn't use the sequence in chronological order as featured in the script, right after the Very Big Corporation of America staff meeting, because it would slow the movie down. They decided to use it at the beginning, as a special presentation, and it was reduced to 16 minutes.
Thirty years after it was written, Eric Idle and physicist Brian Cox re-wrote the lyrics to the Galaxy song. They decided it needed an update because subsequent scientific discoveries meant much of the information in the song was no longer accurate. It was performed as part of the Python's farewell shows at the O2 arena in London in 2014.
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Graham Chapman plays a doctor in the "birth" segment, and is called "Doctor" in the Zulu War segment. He was a real-life doctor, with a medical degree from Emmanuel College, but he never practiced medicine professionally.
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The music from "Every Sperm Is Sacred" plays for a few seconds at the start of part 2.
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The skyscrapers that appear at the end of the Crimson Permanent Assurance segment are replicas of actual buildings from a variety of cities. The IDS Center in Minneapolis, Terry Gilliam's hometown, is one of the replicas.
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Michael Caine: one of the British soldiers injured in the Zulu War scene.
Nikki Diamond: one of the topless running girls.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

After "Every Sperm Is Sacred", the film cuts to the Protestant neighbors, Harry and Mrs. Blackitt. A total of 63 children walk out of the house across the street. Several children walked out of the house more than once.
As the last Monty Python film, the characters they are seen playing last are as follows: Graham Chapman as Tony Bennett, John Cleese as Death, Terry Gilliam as Howard Katzenberg, Eric Idle as Angela, Terry Jones as Mrs. Brown, and Michael Palin as the Lady presenter. The last shot featuring all the Pythons together is when Death shows the six dead people Paradise.
In the Mr. Creosote sketch, when the cleaning woman arrives she is careful to hide her face while Mr Creosote continues to vomit on her back. After Mr Creosote explodes, the cleaning woman shows her face and speaks some lines. It's Terry Jones, who also played Mr Creosote.

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