Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin

Terry Jones

Running Time:
107 mins

"It's waffer thin"

Why are we here?
What's life all about?
Is God really real or is there some doubt?
Well tonight we are going to sort it all out. For tonight it's the meaning of life.

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 laughing throughout.

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 alike.

Does it answer that eternal question? You'll have to watch it and see.



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.

Director's Cut
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 does work.

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 Python fans.



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. Titus's.

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 involved.

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 screen together.

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

Snipped Bits

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.


While 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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