Heartland Film Festival 2015: Movie Review – Monty Python and the Meaning of Live (2014)

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  • Documentary Feature / UK
  • Director: Roger Graef, James Rogan
  • Writers: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
  • Featured Subjects: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin

This review is part of my coverage of 2015’s Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis. Click here for more of my coverage of the festival. You can find my coverage of other Indianapolis area film and TV events here.

In July of 2014, the comedy geniuses of Monty Python reunited for a final ten show performance at The O2 in London. Monty Python and the Meaning of Live is an intimate look behind the scenes of that performance as well as a celebration of Monty Python and the incredible influence that the group had on comedy.

Builds isn’t a hard look at the history of Monty Python, nor does it dramatize the work that went into producing their final show. Instead, the film offers a candid look behind the scenes as the men set about performing for the first time in over 30 years. Oftentimes this includes sharp riffing among the group and a playfulness that showcases their brilliance wonderfully.

The narrative of the documentary isn’t predicated on their relationships either. It’s simply a fun, down to Earth look at a group of men whose work helped shape the comedy landscape and influenced countless performers in the process. There are segments exploring the history of Monty Python’s live performances that help give context to the weight of their final performance without confining the documentary to being a historical record of the Pythons’ vast work.

It’s satisfying to see the Pythons filled with such vibrance and good nature. Throughout the film they call attention to the documentary filmmakers, offering a perfectly fitting amount of subversion that one could only expect from these men. It’s hilarious and feels so genuine and in the moment.

Monty Python and the Meaning of Live is a wonderful chronicle of this iconic group’s final performances. Seeing the Pythons behind the scenes of their work riffing and sharing the moments of their final shows was an absolute joy. Even though part of me may have wanted a comprehensive history of the Pythons and their impact on comedy, there wasn’t a single moment in this film where I wasn’t grinning.

Obsessive Grade – 7.0/10

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Monty Python Heartland 2015 Screenings:

  • Friday, Oct. 23rd – 2:15pmTraders Point
  • Saturday, Oct. 24th – 5:30pmCastleton Square
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