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The Meaning Of Life (1983) BEST

Unlike Holy Grail and Life of Brian, the film's two predecessors, which each told a single, more-or-less coherent story,[3] The Meaning of Life returned to the sketch format of the troupe's original television series and their first film from twelve years earlier, And Now for Something Completely Different, loosely structured as a series of comic sketches about the various stages of life. It was accompanied by the short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance.

The Meaning of Life (1983)

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Six fish in a restaurant's tank greet each other, then see their friend being eaten. This leads them to question the meaning of life. In the first sketch, "The Miracle of Birth", maternity doctors ignore a woman in labour while trying to impress the hospital's administrator. In Yorkshire, a Roman Catholic man loses his job and informs his numerous children that he must sell them for scientific experiments ("Every Sperm Is Sacred"). A Protestant man looks on disapprovingly and proudly remarks that Protestants can use contraception and have sex for pleasure (though his wife points out that they never do).

An announcer introduces "The Middle of the Film," during which bizarre characters challenge the audience in a segment called "Find the Fish." "Middle Age" involves an American couple visiting a Hawaiian restaurant with a Medieval torture theme, where, to the interest of the fish, the waiter offers a conversation about philosophy and the meaning of life. The customers are unable to make sense of it and move on to a discussion of live organ transplants. In "Live Organ Transplants", two paramedics visit a card-carrying organ donor and remove his liver while he is alive. His wife is reluctant to donate her liver, but she relents after a man steps out of a refrigerator and reminds her of humanity's insignificance in the universe ("Galaxy Song"). Executives of an American conglomerate debate the meaning of life before a raid by The Crimson Permanent Assurance briefly interrupts them.

"The Autumn Years" starts off with a musician in a French restaurant singing about the joys of having a penis ("The Not Noël Coward Song"). As the song ends, the ill-tempered glutton Mr. Creosote enters the restaurant, causing the fish to scatter and hide. He vomits continuously and devours an enormous meal. After the maître d'hôtel persuades him to eat an after-dinner mint, Creosote's gut explodes, splattering the other diners. In "The Meaning of Life", the restaurant's cleaning woman proposes that life is meaningless before revealing that she is a racist. A waiter leads the audience to the house where he was born, recalls his mother's lessons about kindness, and then becomes angry when his point trails off.

The song ends abruptly for "The End of the Film". The host from "The Middle of the Film" opens an envelope and blandly reveals the meaning of life: "Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations".

According to Palin, "the writing process was quite cumbersome. An awful lot of material didn't get used. Holy Grail had a structure, a loose one: the search for the grail. Same with Life of Brian. With this, it wasn't so clear. In the end, we just said: 'Well, what the heck. We have got lots of good material, let's give it the loosest structure, which will be the meaning of life'".[3]

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.

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.

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.

Story: The Meaning of Life is a series of different ideas of the meaning of life from point of views, we enter into different class, different religions and different careers. Each chapter connects to the previous which adds to the bigger point in the comedy behind just what is being poked fun at.

The Meaning Of Life is, unsurprisingly, the Monty Python chaps making jokes about the meaning of life. Through a series of vaguely connected sketches, they take us through the various stages of life: birth, learning, fighting people, middle age, live organ transplants and death.

All of which should lead us to feel sorry for her. After all, she made took every opportunity to better herself, and to come to some sort of grander enlightenment about the nature of the world around her, only to run out of life in the process, to feel her body running down. She took a job cleaning up after people like Mr. Creosote with nothing to show for her intellectual pursuits. And, yes, she may follow up her story with an ignorant comment, but from a Meaning of Life standpoint, the real criticism we should have with her is the fore-runner to that anti-Semitic rhyme:

And there is the reason that she is a cleaning woman. She allowed herself to accept failure as possibility in her life, and, therefore, she did not fight against it. She accepted failure, which, in this particular social structure, is tantamount to inviting it. The very fact that she expects to lose as often as she wins is what keeps her on the bottom of the social order while the Maitre D and Mr. Creosote, both self-assured men in their own right, seek opportunities to make it to the top.

But it says an awful lot about the kinds of people they must be if they can set out to create an hour and a half of comedy sketches, and just so happen to provide their audience with the fuel for a lifelong quest of spiritual examination.

Unlike Holy Grail and Life of Brian, the film's two predecessors, which each told a single, more-or-less coherent story, The Meaning of Life returned to the sketch format of the troupe's original television series and their first film from twelve years earlier, And Now for Something Completely Different, loosely structured as a series of comic sketches about the various stages of life. It was accompanied by the short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance.

All of the Python movies, even Life of Brian, were sketch movies, but in Brian and to a lesser extent in Holy Grail they disguised that fact by tying all of the sketches together with common characters and at least a sense of a plot. Here the only thing connecting the sketches is that they're all supposed to be about the stages of development and have something to do with the meaning of life. To be honest this never really works and is a very light framework to hang the movie on.

As they proved with The Life of Brian, Monty Python is religiously offensive. At a school, Michael Palin sarcastically leads a prayer beginning with, "God, ooh you are so big." Later, a cleaning woman shares her philosophy in a speech which ends with, "Cause you see I feel that life's a game. You sometimes win or lose. And though I may be down right now at least I don't work for Jews."

The feature presentation then begins with what is essentially a bunch of sketches presented together under the guise that they explore the meaning of life, though that notion is a bit of a stretch since many don't. Exploring different stages of life is a more accurate description. While they have some very funny pieces, without a story linking them together like 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' and 'Monty Python's Life of Brian', the material that doesn't work as well stands out since there's not even the excuse of including them to move the plot along.

Life opens with a description of the origins of life in the ancient sea. Unicellular organisms swim around and mingle. These are explained as the first life forms on earth, the organisms that are at the base of the tree of life. More specifically, the cell is described as the fundamental unit of life, a unit that has persisted from the origins of life to this day. The division of a human body cell is shown, magnified to expose detail; each daughter cell carries the same information, and has the same structure as the parent. The DNA inside the cell, shown in the form of chromosomes, is what directs cell division and all other processes that begin and sustain life. High-resolution photography reveals the detailed, intricate structure of the chromosome.

How does one make a film that skewers Christianity without skewering Jesus? Monty Python's Life of Brian does exactly that. Famously renowned for specifically not targeting Jesus, Brian instead focuses on the tale of Brian of Nazareth (Graham Chapman), whose life runs concurrently with Jesus'. Through a series of events, Brian becomes heralded as a prophet, only to be hung on a cross at the end of the film (but don't be down: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life). From beginning to end, Life of Brian picks its targets and lampoons them to perfection. The absurdity of warring sects, whose differences are negligible at best, is dissected when the People's Front of Judea adamantly argues its superiority over the Judean People's Front, who they hate even more than the Romans. People who blindly follow leaders, blowing their actions and words completely out of proportion, are mocked through those that follow the Holy Gourd or the Lost Shoe ("Let us, like Him, hold up one shoe and let the other be upon our foot, for this is His sign, that all who follow Him shall do likewise"). Life of Brian is also eerily relevant to this day, with a discussion about how Stan, aka Loretta (Eric Idle), can have the right to have babies, even though he can't have babies because he doesn't have a womb (which is not even the fault of the Romans), that sounds like it could be taken directly from social media. 041b061a72


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