The Meaning of Life (1983)

R   |    |  Comedy, Musical


The Meaning of Life (1983) Poster

The comedy team takes a look at life in all of its stages in their own uniquely silly way.


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  • Michael Palin in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Eric Idle in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Graham Chapman and Eric Idle in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Terry Jones in The Meaning of Life (1983)
  • Graham Chapman in The Meaning of Life (1983)

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15 August 2005 | Quinoa1984
8
| least in the Python 'trilogy', but parts are wildly successful and memorable
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

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.


Quotes

Humphrey: And spotteth twice they the camels before the third hour. And so the Midianites went forth to Ram Gilead in Kadesh Bilgemath by Shor Ethra Regalion, to the house of Gash-Bil-Betheul-Bazda, he who brought the butter dish to Balshazar and the tent peg...


Goofs

In the war sequence, the soldiers give their sergeant a clock, which is placed on the edge of the mound they are hiding behind, clearly visible. In the next shot, the clock is gone.


Crazy Credits

Not the Production Accountant....................Steve Abbott


Alternate Versions

Film prints and early video releases contain narration over the "Our [Short] Feature Presentation" pretitle cards that is not present on later video releases (such as later VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray). Both are in a low male voice. The first one says "There will be a short film of approximately ten minutes before our feature presentation" (even though the short film is about 16 minutes), and the second one, over a short organ fanfare, says "And now, our feature presentation." Later versions leave these completely silent.


Soundtracks

Every Sperm Is Sacred
Lyrics by
Michael Palin & Terry Jones
Music by André Jacquemin & Dave Howman
Performed by Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Andrew MacLachlan, Jennifer Franks, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Comedy | Musical

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