Smoked by Salmon

This isn’t a review but more a momentary break from normalcy to travel into the absurd.

No laughter, no life. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones, Director) is more a series of sketches than a linear narrative. In true Python style, there is an blend of over the top humor mixed with social critique in an exploration of the human condition from birth to our demise

The seventh sketch in the series is Death.  Set in the bucolic countryside we find our pale rider approaching a candlelit cottage with silent determination. Death comes to dinner, for the folk, not the food. For me, one of the funniest moments is the knock on the door of the cottage. The Grim Reaper (who, by the way, is not of this world!) uses his scythe to bang on the door not once, but twice. The comedic timing is on spot. The dinner guests, otherwise engaged, must not have heard the first knock. The frustration the Reaper has while trying to alert the self absorbed guests to his identity is hilarious. Other highlights include: the Grim Reaper using his bony fingers to simulate the cupping of balls, Michael Palin famously ad libbing, “Hey, I didn’t even eat the mousse” as his soul trots off to heaven, and Death growing equally agitated with both the Americans and the English for their inability to just shut up.

This film was the last of the Monty Python efforts as a group and was released in 1983 just months before the death of Graham Chapman. This film has the distinction of not only winning the Grand Prix at Cannes, but also suffering a ban in Ireland. It is the third film from the prolific comedy troupe and although not as popular as  Life of Brian and Holy Grail, it has moments which are pure gems. Once the souls are struck down by the salmon supper, they drive their cars into heaven (why walk?) to enjoy a Tony Bennett look alike singer in a Las Vegas style hotel, stuck in a perpetual Christmas theme.  If that isn’t a reflection of the absurd meaning of life…what is?



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