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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.
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Andrew MacLachlan ... Groom / Wycliff / Victim #1 / Guest #3
Mark Holmes Mark Holmes ... Victim #2 / Troll Waiter / Guest #2
Valerie Whittington Valerie Whittington ... Mrs. Moore
Jennifer Franks Jennifer Franks ... Bride
Imogen Bickford-Smith Imogen Bickford-Smith ... Nurse #2 (as Imogen Bickford Smith)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

What it is, Where it is, and how to avoid treading in it [Video Australia] See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 March 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,987,000, 3 April 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$14,929,552
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2003 restored director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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). See more »

Goofs

The Anglo-Zulu War scene is set in 1879, when wearing a mustache was mandatory in the British Army. Despite this, some of the soldiers (like Terry Jones's character) are seen without a mustache. See more »

Quotes

Humphrey: Now two boys have been found rubbing linseed oil into the school cormorant. Now some of you may feel that the cormorant does not play an important part in the life of the school, but I would remind you that it was presented to us by the corporation of the Town of Sudbury to commemorate Empire Day, when we try to remember the names of all those from the Sudbury area who so gallantly gave their lives to keep China British. So from now on, the cormorant is strictly OUT OF BOUNDS. Oh and Jenkins? ...
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 »

Alternate Versions

The Director's Cut has three more scenes. The first is after the scene with the Protestant couple talking about condoms. It is the Adventures of Martin Luther. The second scene comes between the marching around the square scene and the Zulu army scene. It is a promotional video about the British army. The third and last is an extension of the the American characters that Eric Idle and Michael Palin do. They are shown their room and talk about tampons. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Memories of 1970-1991: 1983 See more »

Soundtracks

The Liberty Bell
(uncredited)
Written by John Philip Sousa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Monty Python's final film adventure
24 March 2006 | by jluis1984See all my reviews

The famous British comedy troupe, Monthy Python, crafted this bizarre collections of their special brand of humor as their last film together; loosely tied by the common theme of the everlasting search for the Meaning of Life, this series of sketches make a very good closure for their film adventures, as it seems as a return to their roots in the TV show "Flying Circus" and dedicated to long time fans. Nevertheless, this may also be a turn off for fans expecting something akin to "Holy Grial" or "Life of Brian".

Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones direct the segments that form "The Meaning of Life", divided in the diverse stages of human development (from birth to death), the action flows with ease; although due to the nature of the film, some sketches are definitely better than other. It's safe to say that this movie contains some of the best and the worst the troupe has done; however, their most mediocre work is still better than most modern comedy out there.

The movie also foresees the future careers of both Gilliam and Jones as directors; their film style (particularly Gilliam's) is now mature and almost fully developed. Gilliam's short "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" is an outstanding segment that could even stand alone on its own, and that presents Gilliam fully in form as a wild fantasy director.

While this was their last film, the group seems to be at its peak when talking about acting; from John Cleese's Dr. Spenser to Graham Chapman's near perfect impersonation of Tony Bennet, the acting never lets down, and even when some scripts are dull even for their time, the Pythons as actors never disappoint.

Something worth to notice are the great quality of the songs performed in the film. they are not only written with their high quality witty humor, musically they work very well and rank among the best the group has written in their history together.

Still, the movie may be overlong and at times tedious to people not used to the team's brand of humor. Specially considering that "The Meaning of Life" has more in common with their early roots than with what made them famous. Also, probably some of the jokes are definitely outdated now; however, "The Meaning of Life" is a very good display of the gang's different sides.

While maybe not as ingenious as "Holy Grail" and definitely nowhere near the masterpiece "Life of Brian", the Pythons last movie is still a very good comedy to watch. However, this certain brand of humor may be appealing only to fans of the Python's TV work, as it has more of those early roots than of their past film adventures. 8/10. An acquired taste indeed.


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