In the echelons of comedic genius, the Monty Python team of
Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael
Palin are unsurpassed when it comes to groundbreaking surreal humour that
is just as funny today as it ever was.
The Meaning of Life was the Python's attempt to bring their
hallmark sketch based humour to the big screen by having each skit relating
to one aspect of life. This was a major change from their previous movies
The Holy Grail and The Life Of Brian but you could argue that they were
also a collection of sketches but with a single theme. This approach works
well but does quite meet the dizzy heights of their first two movies.
Taking you from birth all the way through to death, the Python's
try to cover every aspect of life using comedy and music. The classic "Every
Sperm is sacred" introduces us to the miracle of birth for a catholic family
in Yorkshire. Unable to wear one of those rubber things, the ever increasing
family reminds us, through song and dance, the teachings of the catholic
church when it comes to birth control. Again the Python's take a swipe at
organised religion but it is done in the best possible taste.
From then on we take a roller coaster ride through life covering
everything from war to the act of sex itself. The sex education sketch is
the highlight of the film and some of their best material. Taking place
in a Boys grammar school, John Cleese plays a teacher giving a very frank
and detailed sex education class to his pupils. This includes a practical
demonstration with his wife, while the easily distracted pupils look on.
This is Python at its very best and you will be rolling around on the floor
Probably the most famous section of the film is the Mr Creosote
sketch. Terry Jones creates this iconic comedic creation, who quite literally
busts a gut eating everything on the menu in a fancy French restaurant.
This is probably one of the grossest moments in film history and it makes
any modern gross-out teen comedy pale by comparison.
The Monty Python team may not have been on their best form
with this movie but the sheer genius of the writing and comedic performances
mean that even on a bad day there is more inventiveness and pure hilarity
here than in anything to grace the silver screen since. From Terry Gilliam's
short film "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" to the final "Christmas in
Heaven" sketch, there is so much to enjoy for both comedy and Python fans
Does it answer that eternal question? You'll have to watch
it and see.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 and
dts surround sound, the remastered transfer is probably the best you will
ever get to see the film. The picture quality is fine but there are a
few grainy scenes every now and again. This shouldn't deter you too much
however. The sound is also OK but some of the dialogue is quite at times
but it tries its best to come alive during the musical numbers. Just don't
expect it to make the most of your surround sound set up.
Prologue (1.10 mins)
Eric Idle introduces the film with a poem about the meaning of life.
Adding about 8 minutes onto the running time, this cut of the movie includes
some of the deleted scenes, namely the Martin Luther sketch and more of
the Hendy's, which are available to view on the second disc.
Soundtrack for the Lonely
One of the most annoying audio tracks you are ever going to hear. Funny
for the first 30 seconds, this track just sounds like Michael Palin pretending
to be someone else in the room while you watch the film. The joke really
Commentary by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam
This intercut track is both funny and informative about everything to
do with the movie. Terry Gilliam takes us through his ideas and reasons
behind him turning The Crimson Permanent Assurance from an animation into
a live action short feature. Terry Jones reveals that the original title
was "The Fish Film" and it stayed like that for a very long time. He also
talks about filming the "Every sperm is sacred" scenes in Rochdale with
sixty kids that all needed permission from their parents to sing the song.
Both of them agree that the Sex Education Class is one of the best sketches
that Python has ever done. They also talk about recreating WWI and the
Jungle on the backlot in England. Terry Gilliam reveals that he was originally
to play Mr Creosote and Terry Jones talks about have to have ninety gallons
of sick ready for the four-day shoot. This is excellent stuff for all
The School of Life
The Meaning of making the Meaning of Life (49.00 mins)
John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin reminisce
about bring The Meaning of Life to the big screen. With new and old interviews,
including the late, great Graham Chapman, the Pythons reveal that while
they think this isn't their best feature outing, especially John Cleese,
they think that some of their best material and acting is included in
the movie. They discuss how the movie came about and Terry Jones talks
about how manic it was directing and acting at the same time, even when
he was dressed as a woman. With behind the scenes footage and insights
into the different sketches in the movie, including the songs and Mr Creosote,
this is an excellent featurette and a fascinating look into the world
of Monty Python.
Education Tips (6.01 mins)
A New sketch from the team as John Cleese and Michael Palin show you what
to look for when choosing a really expensive private school, like St.
Un Film de John Cleese (1.31 mins)
A re-edited trailer for The Meaning of Life that just highlights the contribution
of the true star (his own words) John Cleese.
Re-mastering a masterpiece (8.21 mins)
Terry Jones and Michael Palin take you through the restoration process
of The Meaning of Life. Put it this way, they don't use the usual methods.
Song and Dance (11.30 mins)
Terry Jones, choreographer Arlene Phillips and dancer Jane Leeves talk
about the film's big song and dance numbers "Every sperm is sacred" and
"Christmas in Heaven". We go behind the scenes of the big productions
and we see how director Terry Jones coped with all the dancers and extras
Songs Unsung (8.57 mins)
Eric Idle sings "Every sperm is sacred" and "Christmas in Heaven" while
Terry Jones raps his dulcet tones around "It's the Meaning of Life".
Selling the Meaning of Life
The Pythons use Trailers, TV Spots, US Promotion, Rejects (poster designs),
UK Radio spots and Telepathy to make you watch The Meaning of Life
Virtual Reunion (3.05 mins)
Through the magic of modern technology the remaining Pythons appear on
What Fish think (15.54 mins)
A virtual aquarium, with the voices of the team bringing some of the fish
to life. Weblinks Links to the Monty Python websites
Deleted Scenes (18.26 mins)
Seven deleted scenes entitled "Martin Luther", "An Expert", "The Cheese
Lady", "Randy in the Jungle", "The Hendy's", "Mr Creosote arrives at the
restaurant" and "Gaston takes us on a good walk". "Martin Luther" and
"The Hendy's" include commentary by Terry Jones and can be reinserted
into the movie by watching the Director's cut.
this might be the weakest of the Monty Python movies, it is still a work
of comedic genius. Universal have done a decent job with the transfer,
as it is the best you are every going to see the film. The extras are
abit of a mixed bag but the commentary track and the documentary are enough
to make this a must purchase for Python fans.
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