by Hans ten Cate
special thanks to John Goldstone
Thursday, 14 August 2003 (updated 18 August 2003)

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: Special Edition, the two-disc DVD set from Universal Pictures, ships September 2 in the U.S.

Visit the official website for the DVD: montypythondvd.com

Buy the set on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com

On a blistering hot L.A. weekend recently, John Goldstone showed me the brand-new, jam-packed, fat-free, rust-proof special edition DVD set of Monty Python's 1983 film, The Meaning of Life. The two-disc set will be available in U.S. stores September 2.

In honor of the film's 20th anniversary, John (who produced MOL as well as all of the other Python films) has loaded the DVD set with copious amounts of extra materials. Fans have enjoyed special edition DVD versions of Holy Grail and Life of Brian for a while, and now fans can finally experience Meaning of Life in the same expanded format.

Because of the film's sketch nature as
opposed to a more narrative form, DVD is an ideal format for The Meaning of
You can break it into chapters and skip around and choose what you
want to see. The film has been re-chaptered in a more interesting fashion,
providing viewers better access to the individual vignettes

Getting a sneak-peek at the discs a few weeks before their release was a rare treat. The set exemplifies what special edition DVDs are all about - tons of rare footage, outtakes, interviews, and behind-the-scenes antics, not to mention new content and a couple of surprises.

The DVD set was produced under the direction of John Goldstone himself, who spent lots of time with the Pythons on both sides of the Atlantic. Getting all of the Pythons into the same room at the same time became somewhat of a running problem. So much so that John hit upon the idea of using 'blue-screen' special FX to orchestrate a virtual reunion of the Pythons.

But what is perhaps most special about the DVD set, is that the Pythons have written and performed entirely new sketch material. The new content is so howlingly funny, it would easily have made several new episodes of the Flying Circus, or another comedy album, or a CD-ROM game...

Both discs feature animated menus using Terry Gilliam's artwork and silly sounds from the film. Here is a quick run-down of what the two-disc set has to offer:

Disc 1

  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life - the original film, from a new high definition master and Dolby 5.1 soundtrack
  • Prologue by Eric Idle - the original poem that Eric wrote to Universal, which was all that was needed to secure funding, is performed in person for the first time
  • Director's cut - see the film with three deleted scenes reinserted into the film
  • Audio commentary track - features great commentary and banter from Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam
  • "Soundtrack for the Lonely" - Michael Palin's hilarious soundtrack for people watching the DVD at home alone

Disc 2

  • The Meaning of Making The Meaning of Life - a new 50 minute film featuring historical as well as brand new interviews with the Pythons, original electronic press kit materials, footage from the Cannes film festival, and behind-the-scenes clips
  • Education Tips - a totally new sketch written by Michael Palin and John Cleese and performed by Cleese, Palin, and Terry Jones
  • Un Film de John Cleese - a new trailer for the film edited by John Cleese
  • Re-Mastering a Masterpiece - a hilarious video documentary about how the print for Meaning of Life was restored
  • Song & Dance - an in-depth look at some of the musical numbers from the film, including interviews with Terry Jones, famed choreographer Arlene Philips, and dancer Jane Leeves (now known for her role as Daphne on NBC's Frasier)
  • Songs Unsung - actual alternative versions of some of the songs from the film, performed in person by the Pythons who wrote them
  • Selling the Meaning of Life - the original trailer, television and radio spots, including the first-ever and slightly-unsuccessful "advertisement by telepathy"
  • Deleted Scenes - the scenes that didn't make it (some with commentaries)
  • Virtual Reunion - how do you get all of the Pythons together for a reunion?
  • What Fish Think - turn your television into a virtual fish tank, Python style
  • DVD-ROM features - includes the whole screenplay, the script for several scenes that were never filmed, the sheet music to many of the film's songs, and Mr. Creosote's The Joy of Fat recipes

Visit the official website for the DVD set for more information (www.montypythondvd.com).