The meaning of life (film)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title The sense of life
Original title The Meaning of Life
Country of production UK
original language English
Publishing year 1983
length 112 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Terry Jones
script Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Terry Gilliam
Eric Idle
Terry Jones
Michael Palin
production John Goldstone
music Graham Chapman
John Cleese
Terry Gilliam
Eric Idle
Terry Jones
Michael Palin
John Du Prez
camera Peter Hannan

←  Predecessor
Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl

The Meaning of Life is a satire by the British comedian group Monty Python . It contains comical to bizarre episodes from different stages of life, all of which deal directly or indirectly with the meaning of life , more precisely with the failure of all attempts to find a satisfactory answer to the question of what it consists of.

The film is divided into seven chapters that focus on the subjects of birth , religion , sexual education , war , organ donation , food and death .



In the prologue, Monty Python member Eric Idle presents the content of the following film using a short poem.

Supporting film

Before the actual film one of Terry Gilliam written and produced runs supporting film , the title in the original German synchronization , the GmbH (limited Hope) has received. The original title is The Crimson Permanent Assurance , which was also used in the German video and DVD publications, only in the narration at the beginning and at the end of the film is the "Society with limited hope" mentioned.

This supporting film is a metaphor for the apparently uncontrolled capitalism in which employees in companies are kept like galley slaves and, if they are too old, are simply fired. Without further ado, the aging employees decide to mutiny, hoist the "sails" (the dust protection of scaffolding attached to the building) in the style of pirate films combined with the bizarre Monty Python animations and set off with the building to run one financial company after the other through " daring transactions ”. However, it was not expected that the earth would be flat , and so the GmbH simply crashes when the edge is reached.

The supporting film is referred to again in the middle of the main film, this time from the perspective of the financial company.

This part was originally planned as an animation .

Main film

At first you see six fish swimming around in an aquarium, bored. The aquarium is located in a restaurant. As they see one of their former comrades ( Howard ) being served, they wonder what the "meaning of life" is.

The main film is divided into seven chapters as well as the clearly marked "middle of the film" and the equally clear "end of the film":

Part I - The miracle of childbirth

Two different types of birth are shown, on the one hand birth in hospital. The focus is not on the patient, as one would assume, but on the qualified performance of the doctors.

The scene begins with the patient being pushed through the doors and corridors, literally being rammed into the doors. Doctors prepare the delivery room . However, it looks quite bare in the room, so it is decided that the nurses should put various medical devices in there, "in case someone comes from the administration." Among them in particular "the machine with the ping", which constantly says " Makes a ping ”sound, but has no other recognizable function. The patient is placed on the table and the legs are laid open and set up. At that moment a horde of people comes in through the door, after all there is a lot to see. However, the husband is sent out again, as only those involved are allowed in.

A gentleman from the administration comes in and every apparatus is hastily switched on. The manager asks what will be done now. The process of a birth is roughly presented to him: “That's when we pull a new baby out of a lady's belly!” The baby is taken out quite unspectacularly, the umbilical cord is cut, the newborn is quickly rubbed off with the rough towel and, very briefly, the mother shown and taken away. When asked “A girl or a boy?” She receives the answer: “We don't want to push her into a role so early”.

The Miracle of Birth, Part I-2: The Third World

Second, the birth is presented in a typical British working-class neighborhood in Yorkshire in the first half of the 20th century . A baby falls out of the stomach of a woman washing clothes ( Terry Jones ). She casually asks her daughter to pick it up. The father enters the living room full of neglected children and informs them that he must give them all away for medical experiments as he can no longer feed them. After all, as a Catholic, he was not allowed to use contraception. He also doesn't want to cut off his testicles or lose them in an accident, as his children suggest. He justifies this with the song Every Sperm Is Sacred (English: Every semen is sacred), which addresses the fact that for the Catholic Church every sperm is sacred and therefore should not be wasted.

The children see it. Singing the song sadly, they leave the house in a row. The neighbors across the street get upset about her. Since they are Protestants , they can also use condoms . When the woman asks why the Catholics across the street have so many children, the man states that Catholics have a baby every time they have intercourse. The woman says that it is exactly the same as with them, since they had two children and also had sexual intercourse exactly twice ... Then the man lapses into a wild speech about the openness and progressiveness of Protestantism. But: "Despite the attempts of Protestantism to practice sex for pleasure, the number of children is constantly increasing."

Part II - Growing and Learning

3 scenes:

  1. The school band ("Oh Lord, you are so big and powerful, so absolutely huge and powerful ...")
  2. Sex education lessons ("Was that something about taking off your clothes?"; A teacher and his wife give the class a practical example of how sexual intercourse works)
  3. The rugby match (a children's rugby team loses without a chance against a team made up of young adults)

Part III - Fighting Each Other

3 scenes:

  1. The birthday party in the trenches ( World War I ) ("This cake is too good not to be eaten!"; A group of English soldiers gives their officer numerous gifts in the middle of the battlefield)
  2. Drill in the British Army ("Marching, all day, up and down the barracks yard!"; A sergeant one after the other orders his soldiers not to drill, but to pursue other leisure activities)
  3. 1st Zulu War , Natal (1879) (not Glasgow !) ("A tiger in Africa?"; An expedition is looking for a tiger with an officer's leg)

The middle of the film (or: find the fish)

In the middle, the action is interrupted abruptly and no less bizarre by the scene "Find the Fish", in which a man with extended forearms misses his favorite fish. Furthermore, a "lady" (in latex corset , with eye-catching chest hair, probably a parody of The Rocky Horror Picture Show ) and a waiter with an elephant head as well as hecklers from the "audience" appear in the scene .

Part IV - The Middle Ages

A scene in which a classic vacationer couple (he with a camera around his neck) is having dinner in the hotel's own themed restaurant (“Hawaiian dungeon”). However, the menu does not offer food, but rather topics of conversation, including "Philosophers and the meaning of life". However, the conversation is not to their liking and so they give it back to the waiter. He apologizes many times and offers them a conversation as compensation that is not on the menu: "Live organ transplantation".

Part V - Live Organ Transplant

In this scene, the liver of a registered organ donor is unceremoniously removed on his kitchen table with all kinds of plumbing and metalworking tools, because he has an organ donor card . Even the argument that this only applies in the event of death does not help, because: “No one has ever survived after we have removed the liver”. By means of a man who suddenly climbs out of the fridge in a pink evening suit and sings the Galaxy song , the victim's wife can also be persuaded to donate the liver.

In the following scene in the board room of the Very Big Corporation of America , a study of the meaning of life is discussed: “Matter is energy. There are many energy fields in the universe that we cannot perceive in the normal way. Some of these energies have a spiritual source that acts on a person's soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio, as Orthodox Christianity teaches us, it must be brought into being through a process of controlled introspection. However, this is almost never achieved due to the unique ability of humans to be distracted from the spiritual by everyday trivialities. ”Finally, the entire gathering is distracted by the attack of the GmbH , which is then killed by a skyscraper.

Part VI - The Autumn Years

Elegant restaurant, the pianist ( Eric Idle as Noël Coward ) performs the penis song . The aquarium from the opening scene is also in this restaurant. The fish flee when they see the extremely obese Mr. Creosote appear in the pub. He orders all the dishes on the menu, vomits several times, ingests huge amounts of food and finally explodes after the waiter has persuaded him to eat only a “very thin leaf of peppermint”. The guests leave the restaurant in disgust.

Part VI b - The meaning of life

Of course, this section does not keep what the title promises, you only learn why the French waiter from the previous scene took up his job.

Part VII - Death

  1. Arthur Jarrett has been sentenced to death and was allowed to choose his own way of death, whereupon he is rushed over the cliffs by a pack of scantily clad girls and falls directly into the grave already dug below on the beach, where the mourners are already gathered.
  2. Scene in the Highlands : the Grim Reaper appears in the barren landscape and knocks on the door of the country estate of a businessman who has guests visiting. But nobody takes him really seriously (“It's one of the people from the village”) until he explains to them that they all died of fish poisoning (“the salmon foam dish!”, Voiced by Michael Chevalier ). Thereupon the spirits of the just deceased rise and drive their cars to heaven, following the grim reaper.
  3. In the following scene, which pays homage to The Restaurant at the End of the Universe , all those who have died in the film are gathered for a big Christmas gala (in heaven every day is Christmas) in the style of a Las Vegas show. Tony Bennett ( Graham Chapman ) as showmaster sings It's Christmas in Heaven , scantily clad angels dance as showgirls. Before the song is over, the scene ends with the TV that it was apparently on being switched off.

The end of the film

A broadcaster ( Michael Palin ) reads out the meaning of life (German version): “Be nice to your neighbors, avoid fatty foods, read a few good books, go for walks and try to join in peace and harmony People of every faith and every nation. "

Cut scenes

The DVD release of the film also features some scenes that were not included in the release version of the film, including a longer prehistory of the couple from Part IV who spend some time in the hotel room. The viewer learns here that they are in the very same hotel where the Christmas gala in heaven will take place at the end. Another scene is the "Adventures of Martin Luther ", in which Luther is on the run as a sex-hungry monk because he is constantly harassing women. He persuades a friend to hide in his house, and then harasses his wife and daughter there, constantly under the pretext of not wanting to have sex, but only to “see their spoons”.


actor Voice actor cinema Voice actor DVD
Graham Chapman Norbert Langer Norbert Langer
John Cleese Thomas Danneberg Thomas Danneberg
Terry Gilliam Andreas Mannkopff Reinhard Kuhnert
Eric Idle Arne Elsholtz Arne Elsholtz
Terry Jones Ulrich Gressieker Lutz Mackensy
Michael Palin Michael Nowka Michael Nowka

The film was re-dubbed again for DVD 2003.


“Anyone who is obsessed with Faust and wants to find a single satisfactory answer to one question must fail in the end. In the end, we are all just fish in a narrow tank from which we look at the world. Through the glassy veil, we cannot really see what is going on. All we know is that there has to be a purpose Life won't have been in vain, will it? "

- Sven Maier, film starts

“The satirical number revue tries to find the meaning of life from the cradle to the grave, in all situations and in all social classes. The comedy ranges from gentle irony to vulgar slapstick and, in a partly intelligent, partly infantile form, prefers to target sacred cows - the authorities and the medical profession, the church and western philosophy - but at times degenerates into violating taboos and destructiveness. Technically professional and visually imaginative. "

“So now the London blasphemers have pondered the 'meaning of life', which of course lies in sheer madness for the madhouse troupe - in a sketch revue that once again seriously sins against the rules of good taste. Of course, the exhilarating effect of this deep philosophical work sometimes suffers from the python-like brute comedy that kills its punch lines on the battlefield of clothes. "

- Peter Stolle, Der Spiegel

“A film that is as bizarre as it is entertaining. The film is a bit rebellious, but it shouldn't be taken too seriously. So: 'Always look on the bright side of life!'. "

- Tele

"A joke. But the weakest part of the series. "

- Excalibur



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The meaning of life (cinema synchronization ) in the German dubbing index
  2. The meaning of life (DVD synchronization) in the German dubbing index
  3. ^ Criticism from the editorial team
  4. The meaning of life. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  5. Tod an der Hecke , Der Spiegel 34/1983 of August 22, 1983.