The Crimson Permanent Assurance: Monty Python’s Comic Fantasy of Revolt Against the Corporations

In art, cer­tain themes are ever­green. They nev­er go out of date. Among them are love, death, and the intrin­si­cal­ly dehu­man­iz­ing nature of cor­po­ra­tions.

In 1983 Mon­ty Python tapped into one of the Great Themes with their short film The Crim­son Per­ma­nent Assur­ance. It tells the sto­ry of a group of elder­ly accoun­tants, “strained under the oppres­sive yoke of their new cor­po­rate man­age­ment,” who rise up against The Very Big Cor­po­ra­tion of Amer­i­ca and set sail on the high seas of inter­na­tion­al finance as a maraud­ing band of pirates.

The film was orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived by direc­tor Ter­ry Gilliam as an ani­mat­ed sequence for inclu­sion in Mon­ty Python’s The Mean­ing of Life, but as the idea grew he talked the group into let­ting him devel­op it into a live-action film. The Crim­son Per­ma­nent Assur­ance was even­tu­al­ly shown both on its own and as a pro­logue to The Mean­ing of Life. The title was inspired by the 1952 Burt Lan­cast­er adven­ture film The Crim­son Pirate. The cast is made up most­ly of unknown actors, but if you watch close­ly you’ll catch a glimpse of most of the Python mem­bers. Gilliam and Michael Palin have cameo roles as win­dow wash­ers, and Eric Idle, Ter­ry Jones and Gra­ham Chap­man appear very briefly at the begin­ning of the board­room scene.

The Crim­son Per­ma­nent Assur­ance is a delight­ful lit­tle film–and just as rel­e­vant now as ever, a reminder of the utter absur­di­ty of the claim that “cor­po­ra­tions are peo­ple too.”

You will find The Crim­son Per­ma­nent Assur­ance added to our col­lec­tion of 500 Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ter­ry Gilliam: The Dif­fer­ence Between Kubrick (Great Film­mak­er) and Spiel­berg (Less So)

The Best Ani­mat­ed Films of All Time, Accord­ing to Ter­ry Gilliam

Ter­ry Gilliam (Mon­ty Python) Shows You How to Make Your Own Cutout Ani­ma­tion

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Comments (5)
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  • Paul Tatara says:

    This thing is ENDLESS. I remem­ber see­ing the movie the day it came out and being pissed off by the time I sat through that. Not a sin­gle amus­ing moment, and it lum­bers along exact­ly like an office build­ing on sails.

  • Mike Springer says:

    I’d have to look it up, but find­ing a four­teen-and-a-half-minute film to be “ENDLESS” might just be the clin­i­cal def­i­n­i­tion of Atten­tion Deficit Dis­or­der.

  • Paul Tatara says:

    It’s 13 min­utes too long. Look it up on your cal­cu­la­tor.

  • Alastair says:

    the video has been removed. :(

  • Susan says:

    Bum­mer. It’s been removed. I was look­ing for­ward to watch­ing it again. I must be eas­i­ly amused ;-) because I found it delight­ful. Or per­haps it came from watch­ing too many pirate movies on Sat­ur­day after­noon TV.

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