7.6/10
100,672
205 user 62 critic

The Meaning of Life (1983)

Trailer
1:03 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
The comedy team takes a look at life in all its stages in their own uniquely silly way.
Reviews
Popularity
4,468 ( 449)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Life of Brian (1979)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Born on the original Christmas in the stable next door to Jesus, Brian of Nazareth spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.

Director: Terry Jones
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles.

Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An anthology of the best sketches from the first and second seasons of Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969).

Director: Ian MacNaughton
Stars: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

The original surreal sketch comedy showcase for the Monty Python troupe.

Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The Monty Python troupe perform a combination of classic sketches and new material at the Hollywood Bowl.

Directors: Terry Hughes, Ian MacNaughton
Stars: John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An account of Baron Munchausen's supposed travels and fantastical experiences with his band of misfits.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: John Neville, Eric Idle, Sarah Polley
Time Bandits (1981)
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese
Jabberwocky (1977)
Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A young peasant, with no interest in adventure or fortune, is mistaken as the kingdom's only hope when a horrible monster threatens the countryside.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Michael Palin, Harry H. Corbett, John Le Mesurier
Brazil (1985)
Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error and becomes an enemy of the state.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro
Adventure | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A group of down-and-out accountants mutiny against their bosses and sail their office building onto the high seas in search of a pirate's life.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Sydney Arnold, Guy Bertrand, Andrew Bicknell
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Adam Bryant
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In London, four very different people team up to commit armed robbery, then try to doublecross each other for the loot.

Directors: Charles Crichton, John Cleese
Stars: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline
Edit

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)
Edit

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:

It took God six days to create the earth, and Monty Python just 90 minutes to screw it up. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Musical

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

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 »

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Ainsworth: I'm afraid we've got a bit of a problem... you see one of our officers has
[sotto voice]
Ainsworth: Lost a leg. We think it's a tiger...
Soldier: In Africa?
Pakenham: Sh, sh sh...
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

Featured in Stranger Than Fiction (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

The Meaning of Life
Lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by Eric Idle & John Du Prez
Performed by Eric Idle
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
least in the Python 'trilogy', but parts are wildly successful and memorable
15 August 2005 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

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.


19 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 205 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed