Sunday, December 30, 2012

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam)

The Python troupe.

4 years after "Life of Brian", the Monty Python troupe, composed of John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, is back and as insightful and profound as ever in "The Meaning of Life", a surrealistic comic masterpiece that is quite possibly their most ambitious film ever. Hell, I wouldn't even bother to label it as their best. 
Unlike the previous two Python features, namely "Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian", both of which have modicums of a narrative, "The Meaning of Life" is infinitely more lose, non-cohesive and random. It is, for me, their most 'stream of consciousness' creation of the three. Opening with an awe-inspiring short involving geriatric employees and their very pirate-like attempt to take over the world's whole economic landscape, it is quite easy to see how bigger in scope "The Meaning of Life" is compared to the comic troupe's previous creations. And as the film progresses, it's also quite wondrous to sense and feel that Monty Python has since fully grown not just as an assemblage of comic geniuses but also as a thought-provoking lot. 
Ranging from sex to the very idea of heaven, hell and death, "The Meaning of Life" tackles almost everything under the sun (alas, even the very creation of sun itself and its brotherly stars), over the war-time trenches and inside the uterus. Split into various chapters, "The Meaning of Life" is comprised of sketches that are overwhelmingly funny yet also poignant with the truths that each of them speaks. And although the film's main intent is to leave you in stitches, it will also make you laughingly question yourself as to how relevant your minuscule place in this universe really is. But do not worry; Eric Idle will treat you with an affirming song of how miraculous your birth really is. And no, there's not a hint of sarcasm both in the tune and the lyrics. Despite of the film's bizarrely mocking tone, the film is embedded with an indelible humanity that actually means what it wants to say. Suddenly, here is Monty Python, the most humanly offensive and irreverent comic group that has ever graced the screens both small and big, traversing their most vulnerably human side. 
For me, what eagerly exemplifies this side is the scene when Eric Idle's French waiter character leads the camera (presumably representing us, the viewers) in a relatively long walk towards his humble home. He then explains, in a very non-philosophical, layman's manner, the meaning, for him, of life. "You see that house? That is where I was born. My mother said to me, "Garcon. The world is a beautiful place, and you must spread joy and contentment everywhere you go."" That was what Idle's waiter character has stated. Although it's a random, seemingly out of left field scene that's truly in contrast with the rest of the film's tone, it nonetheless strikes me as very life-affirming and, to a certain extent, even worthy of tears. 
Yes, "Life of Brian" is arguably their greatest work, but I will always reserve a special place both in my heart and mind for "The Meaning of Life". Not only is it a proof of how Monty Python is and will always be the best in terms of avant-garde comedy, it has also solidified the fact that the Python troupe indeed never lacks the silent sensitivity needed to tackle the very nuance of human existence itself. They have just made God quite irate, is all. 
Personally, I find "The Meaning of Life" to be more than just a comedy. Fittingly, I have watched it at around three o'clock in the morning. Waking up, I felt as if I haven't had a dream. Well, maybe the Sandman have had quite a hard time replicating or even surpassing the things I have just seen. The Pythons may have given the Dreamer a run for his money.


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