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The Meaning of Life (1983) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Cameo (1)  | Spoilers (2)
Terry Jones spent most of the budget on the "Every Sperm Is Sacred" sequence. The rest of the team found out later.
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Sensitive to the young actors in the "Every Sperm is Sacred" scene, Sir Michael Palin actually said "those little rubber things on the end of my sock." The word "cock" was dubbed in later.
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The kids who sang in the "Every Sperm is Sacred" sketch later said they had no idea what they were singing about.
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"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.
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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, nor recognized by the Church of England.
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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.
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Monty Python refused to show Universal Studios a movie 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 this movie, 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.
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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 death, and each one of them gets to decide how they're going to die. The idea was used in the death sketch, In which Arthur Jarrett chooses to die while being pursued by naked girls.
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John Cleese has said that he considers this movie "a bit of a cock-up". The other Pythons agreed that this movie is not of the same quality as their three previous movies.
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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.
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Sir Michael Palin's line, "Hey, but I didn't eat the mousse", was not in the script.
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After "Every Sperm Is Sacred", the movie cuts to the Protestant neighbors, Harry and Mrs. Blackitt. A total of sixty-three children walk out of the house across the street. Several children walked out of the house more than once.
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John Cleese had food poisoning while shooting the Tiger sequence. He ran outside and vomited between takes.
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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.
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In the "Find the Fish" sketch, the green, elephant-like waiter is a leftover costume from Time Bandits (1981).
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Graham Chapman played 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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During an interview to promote this movie 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.
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Thirty years after it was written, Eric Idle and physicist Professor Brian Cox re-wrote the lyrics to the Galaxy song. They decided it needed an update because subsequent scientific discoveries meant that much of the information in the original song was no longer accurate. It was performed as part of the Monty Python's farewell shows at the O2 Arena in London, England in 2014.
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Originally called "Monty Python's Fish Film".
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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.
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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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Terry Gilliam filmed "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" with his own crew and soundstage. He went way over budget, and a five-minute scene became a thirty-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 sixteen minutes.
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The only character that appeared in all four Monty Python movies is God.
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According to the DVD special features, the "Mr. Creosote" scene took five days to shoot, and involved the use of many gallons of fake vomit, which after a few days use had caused an unpleasant smell to permeate the function hall that the crew had hired out as the location. Upon conclusion of filming on the final day of shooting this scene, the venue had to be thoroughly cleaned and aired out, as a wedding was scheduled to take place there the following day.
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Before the teacher gives the sex education lesson, he gives a extremely convoluted explanation of how to proceed during the next football match. According to John Cleese, the speech was taken almost verbatim from his old headmaster, who sometimes had a hard time making sense.
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The Irish movie censor banned this movie in 1983, but it was widely available in Ireland on PAL U.K. videocassette. It remains available, legally and uncut, on DVD to this day.
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While writing this movie, 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).
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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 this movie's title. Adams' idea was that the potential confusion of titles would help sell the book. Notably, Adams was the only "Official Unofficial Member" of Monty Python.
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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 who died.
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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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If you listen carefully to Maria the cleaning woman's speech after the Mr. Creosote scene as she cleans up vomit and ponders the great imponderables with John Cleese's French waiter, you will notice the speech is in fact a poem.
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Uncredited theatrical movie debut of Jane Leeves. She is one of the dancers in the "Christmas in Heaven" number.
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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)
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The skyscrapers that appeared at the end of "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" segment are replicas of actual buildings from a variety of cities. The IDS Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Terry Gilliam's hometown, is one of the replicas.
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In the medieval Hawaiian restaurant, Marvin (Sir Michael Palin) asks the waiter if philosophy is a sport. They're likely referencing the sketch with the Greek and German philosophers playing football, originally from Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus (1972).
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The music from "Every Sperm Is Sacred" plays for a few seconds at the start of part two.
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In a change to the established convention of credits order, actor, writer, and director Terry Jones is not the first name to appear at the start of the end credits. Instead, Monty Python's usual "... was written by and starred", listing the six Python members is first, followed by the rest of the cast, before Jones' "Directed By" credit appears.
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The U.S. trailer was narrated by Percy Rodrigues.
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The first Monty Python film to have Hollywood backing.
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Cameo 

Nikki Diamond: One of the topless running girls.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Quentin Tarantino said that the explosion of Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones) is the only time he has been disturbed by graphic violence on film.
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As the last Monty Python movie, 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 Sir Michael Palin as the Lady presenter. The last shot featuring all of the Pythons together is when Death shows the six dead people Paradise.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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