Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983, UK)

In director Terry Jones' irreverent musical comedy about the stages of life from the Monty Python comedy team:

  • the various skits about the 'meaning of life - and death,' including the fantastic short film The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) preceding the movie
  • the sequence in a fish aquarium of human-headed fish who exchanged pleasantries, commented upon one of their own kind being served in a restaurant, and wondered about life: (- "Hey, look. Howard's being eaten" - "Is he? Makes you think, doesn't it?" - "I mean, what's it all about?" - "Beats me")
  • the hospital birth scene when the doctors were fascinated with "the machine that goes ping" ("that means your baby is still alive") and basically neglected the patient Mrs. Moore (Valerie Whittington); the obstetrician (Graham Chapman) and Dr. Spencer (John Cleese) treated the newborn roughly in the Fetus Frightening Room ("Here it comes. And frighten it!"), used "rough towels" and then ordered: "Show it to the mother. That's enough...Sedate her. Number the child. Measure it, blood type it, and isolate it!"); when the mother simply asked: "Is it a boy or girl?", the obstetrician replied: ("Now, I think it's a little early to start imposing roles on it, don't you? Now, a word of advice. You may find that you suffer for some time a totally irrational feeling of depression: 'PND', as we doctors call it. So, it's lots of happy pills for you, and you can find out all about the birth when you get home. It's available on Betamax, VHS, and Super Eight")
  • the "Every Sperm is Sacred" musical song lyrics, a lavish production number sung in part by a pregnant Mum (Terry Jones) with her many children: ("Hindu, Taoist, Mormon, Spill theirs just anywhere; But God loves those who treat - their semen with more care; (chorus) Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted, God gets quite irate")
  • the sequence of Protestant Mr. Harry Blackitt (Graham Chapman), speaking to his wife (Eric Idle) - criticizing the neighboring poverty-stricken Catholics with too many children who didn't practice birth control: ("Look at them, bloody Catholics, filling the bloody world up with bloody people they can't afford to bloody feed...every time they have sexual intercourse, they have to have a baby"); his statement that Protestants could take precautions ("by wearing a rubber sheath over my old feller, I could insure that, when I came off, you would not be impregnated....That's what being a Protestant's all about. That's why it's the church for me...and, Protestantism doesn't stop at the simple condom! Oh, no! I can wear French Ticklers if I want...French Ticklers. Black Mambos. Crocodile Ribs. Sheaths that are designed not only to protect, but also to enhance the stimulation of sexual congress")
  • the scene of the class in which sex education and proper foreplay was taught by Prof. Humphrey Williams (John Cleese) to a bored class of students: ("Nibbling the earlobe, uhh, kneading the buttocks, and so on and so forth. So, we have all these possibilities before we stampede towards the clitoris, Watson"), and then to demonstrate, he introduced his wife Helen in front of the class and opened up a drop-down Murphy bed; after the two disrobed, they proceeded to make love: ("Now, all these forms of stimulation can now take place ... and, of course, tonguing will give you the best idea of how the juices are coming along. Helen! Now, penetration and coitus -- that is to say, intercourse up to, and including,, the man starts by entering -- or mounting -- his good lady wife in the standard way. Uh, the penis is now, as you will observe, more or less, fully erect...the man now starts making thrusting movements with his pelvic area, moving the penis up and down inside the vagina, so...while the wife maximizes her clitoral stimulation by the shaft of the penis by pushing forward")
  • the battlefield scene when Blackitt (Eric Idle) and fellow soldiers offered a goodbye present to ungrateful Capt. Biggs (Terry Jones) - he received two clocks and a watch by accident, a check, and a cake: ("There's love in that cake...It's too good a cake not to eat! Get the plates and knives"), as the men around him were shot down
  • the sequence of a General (Graham Chapman) pontificating about the need for an Army before being struck down by the hand of God, and Sgt. Major's (Michael Palin) question posed to his troops about the need to drill and march: ("Now, today, we're going to do marching up and down the square! That is, unless any of you got anything better to do. Well?! Anyone got anything they'd rather be doing than marchin' up and down the square?!") - and one by one, his troop members deserted him with their requests to be home with the wife and kids, reading a book, learning the piano, and going to the "pictures"
  • the strange interlude mid-way through the film - "Find the Fish" with three characters: a drag queen (Graham Chapman), a gangly long-armed man (Terry Jones), and an elephant-headed butler - ("Where can that fish be?...It is a most elusive fish...Oh, fishy, fishy, fishy, fish")
"Find the Fish"
  • the gory "Live Organ Transplants" sequence when two National Health doctors contractually claimed that they could remove a healthy liver from a still-living donor, and proceeded to operate on live patient - card-carrying organ donor Mr. Brown (Terry Gilliam)
  • the great "Galaxy Song" sung by Mr. Pink (Eric Idle), stressing the place of Man in the universe: ("So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure / How amazingly unlikely is your birth / And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space / 'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth") while featuring an animated constellation of stars resembling a pregnant woman giving birth to represent the "expanding universe"
  • the controversial "Penis Song" in Part VI: The Autumn Years - performed with a piano by Noel Coward (Eric Idle) in front of restaurant diners: ("Isn't it awfully nice to have a penis? Isn't it frightfully good to have a dong? It's swell to have a stiffy. It's divine to own a dick, From the tiniest little tadger To the world's biggest prick. So, three cheers for your Willy or John Thomas. Hooray for your one-eyed trouser snake, Your piece of pork, your wife's best friend, Your Percy, or your cock. You can wrap it up in ribbons. You can slip it in your sock, But don't take it out in public, Or they will stick you in the dock, And you won't come back")
  • the oft-remembered scene in the fancy French restaurant of the gruesome, slovenly, massively overweight, constantly-vomiting (into a bucket) character of Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones), culminating in his explosion from overeating a rich, 700 course meal after he swallowed a thin mint offered by a determined maître d' (John Cleese): ("Finally, monsieur, a wafer thin mint...It's only a tiny little thin one...Just, just one. Bon appetit"); the customer's fat-coated, still-beating heart was revealed when other diners were showered with his insides and half-digested food after his stomach spectacularly burst; the maitre d' then happened to notice the undigested mint inside Creosote's bloody body cavity - he delicately plucked it out and popped it in his mouth
The Gorging and Explosion of Mr. Creosote
  • the scene in Part VII: Death, of Arthur Jarrett (Graham Chapman) as a criminal who was given the choice of "the manner of his own execution" - the governor explained Jarrett's crime - at his beachside grave: ("Arthur Charles Herbert Runcie MacAdam Jarrett, you have been convicted by twelve good persons and true of the crime of first degree making of gratuitous, sexist jokes in a moving picture"); Jarrett selected a mad dash-pursuit by a group of beautiful bare-chested women (with brightly colored crash helmets and kneepads matching their thong-bikini bottoms) who (with frequent panting) chased him off a cliff to his death; he plummeted into his own gravesite where a funeral ceremony for his death was already being held, and the priest intoned: "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust"
Mad Dash Over Cliff by
Bare-Breasted Females After Condemned Man Arthur Jarrett
  • the bizarre "Christmas in Heaven" segment ("It's Christmas every day in Heaven") with Santa Claus-dressed angels wearing plastic breasts in a Las Vegas-styled hotel, with look-alike lounge singer Tony Bennett (Graham Chapman) singing the lyrics: ("It's Christmas in Heaven. All the children sing. It's Christmas in Heaven. Hark. Hark. Those church bells ring. It's Christmas in Heaven. The snow falls from the sky, But it's nice and warm, and everyone Looks smart and wears a tie. It's Christmas in Heaven. There's great films on TV: 'The Sound of Music' twice an hour And 'Jaws' One, Two, and Three")
  • and "The End of the Film" in which a Queen Elizabeth-look-alike Lady Presenter (Michael Palin) spoke to the audience: (" are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and to hopefully spark some sort of controversy, which, it seems, is the only way, these days, to get the jaded, video-sated public off their f--king arses and back in the sodding cinema")

Human-Headed Fish in Aquarium Contemplating Life

Hospital 'Miracle of Birth' Scene While Neglecting Mother and Child

"Every Sperm is Sacred"

Protestants Bragging About Using Condoms

Sex Education Demonstration in Front of Class

Battlefield Goodbye Gifts

The Hand of God

Deserting the Sgt. Major and His Orders

"Live Organ Transplants"

"The Galaxy Song"

The Penis Song

"Christmas in Heaven" Musical Segment - Santa Claus Angels with Plastic Breasts

"The End of the Film"


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