Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
The third irreverent Python movie followed Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and The Life Of Brian (1979), starring Graham, Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, who also directed.
A series of sketches worked up into seven chapters, following Shakespeare’s seven ages of man, from birth to death. The second part of the first chapter, Every Sperm Is Sacred, was partly filmed in the grounds of Cartwright Hall.
Another scene, with dancing cardinals, was filmed in the back streets of Shipley.
The film concludes with Palin, tongue in cheek, reading out the meaning of life: “Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”
About filming in Ilkley, Palin said: “The Cow and Calf rocks were just a great location for the Sociable Hermits and, later of course, Denley Moor and all that for Golden Gordon (in the TV comedy series Ripping Yarns). It was a more interesting landscape to me than Surrey and the Home Counties.”
A Private Function (1984) Handmade Films had a brief but glorious spell as a movie production company. A Private Function was among its better films.
Alan Bennett’s original screenplay is about a small post-war Yorkshire village and the villagers’ ambition to fatten a pig for a dinner celebrating the marriage of Princess Elizabeth.
Location shooting took place in Ilkley, Ben Rhydding, Bradford and Bolton Abbey in May of that year. The budget did not allow for extended filming when the pig, distracted by wild garlic, failed to trot out of the woods on cue at Bolton Abbey.
Michael Palin and Maggie Smith starred.