Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

“Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life”
Publisher: Methuen
Designer: James Campus
Animation Pages Designer: Kate Hepburn
Publication Date: 1983

The Pythons’ last film together was a return to the sketch format of the TV series and their first film, “And Now for Something Completely Different,” but with an overarching conceit that gave a narrative structure to sketches about procreation, going to war, foul restaurant patrons, live organ transplants and talking fish. The book is a very well-designed keepsake, lusciously illustrated and blood-spattered.

Contents

Screenplay of “The Meaning of Life,” including scenes (“Martin Luther”) cut from final release; production photos; letters by John Cleese to Editors of The Sun.

The Making of

Just as the group had holed up on a Caribbean island to concentrate on writing the screenplay of “Life of Brian,” the Pythons set up camp on Jamaica to try to tackle a troublesome screenplay that – unlike “Holy Grail” and “Brian” – did not suggest a single narrative or central character. There was frustration, as each of the members of the group was already being pulled away by their own solo projects, and the difficulty of tying together the sketches they’d come up with over the course of a year led some to want to give up the movie project altogether.

Terry Jones was convinced that the material could work as a film. “It’s somebody’s life story,” he said as the group met one morning. “And then somebody said it could be anybody’s life story. And Eric said, ‘Yeah, we could call it ‘The Meaning of Life.’ That’s it! Just over that breakfast it suddenly came up. Somebody came up with the idea of ‘Let’s do the Seven Ages of Man,’ and then we knew where we were going.”

Critics were mixed on how the disparate sketches gelled together into a cohesive “Seven Ages of Man”-type framework, but the consensus was that “Meaning of Life” contains examples of Pythonic humor at its most uncompromising and outrageous.

Read more at https://web.archive.org/web/20161106204038/http://www.montypython.com/book_Monty%20Python’s%20The%20Meaning%20of%20Life/36#LLPJgx3wAXEEtUDQ.99

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