New Animated Film Tells the Life Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

John Cleese, Eric Idle, Ter­ry Jones, Ter­ry Gilliam, and Michael Palin have all entered their late six­ties and ear­ly sev­en­ties in rea­son­able pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Gra­ham Chap­man, how­ev­er, “self­ish­ly dropped dead in 1989,” thus tak­ing on the offi­cial title of “the dead one from Mon­ty Python.” That comes straight from the press mate­ri­als pro­mot­ing A Liar’s Auto­bi­og­ra­phy: The Untrue Sto­ry of Mon­ty Python’s Gra­ham Chap­man, the high­ly non­tra­di­tion­al biopic that recent­ly made its debut in the Unit­ed King­dom. The elab­o­rate pro­duc­tion com­mand­ed the visu­al tal­ents of no few­er than four­teen sep­a­rate ani­ma­tion stu­dios and the vocal tal­ents of no few­er than five Pythons, Chap­man him­self includ­ed. Short­ly before his pass­ing, Chap­man record­ed him­self read­ing the text of his auto­bi­og­ra­phy A Liar’s Auto­bi­og­ra­phy (Vol­ume VI), and that audio track pro­vides the basis of the ver­i­ta­ble kalei­do­scope of aes­thet­ic sen­si­bil­i­ties and lev­els of comedic taste you can glimpse in the trail­er above. Oh, and the film’s in 3D.

The notion that a tale like Chap­man’s life demands a pack of tellers has a prece­dent in the book, which famous­ly cred­its five authors: Chap­man him­self, his part­ner David Sher­lock, The Hitch­hik­er’s Guide to the Galaxy mas­ter­mind Dou­glas Adams, crime writer David Yal­lop, and Alex Mar­tin. Those at all famil­iar with Chap­man should feel pleased to see rep­re­sent­ed in the trail­er a seem­ing­ly appro­pri­ate mix­ture of har­row­ing for­ma­tive wartime expe­ri­ence, sex­u­al adven­ture, obvi­ous fab­ri­ca­tion, and sheer drunk­en­ness — and that does­n’t yet take into account all that Mon­ty Python busi­ness. The trail­er’s final moments cred­it its absur­di­ty-lov­ing, pipe-smok­ing sub­ject with call­ing A Liar’s Auto­bi­og­ra­phy “the best movie I’ve been in since I died.” That takes it out of com­pe­ti­tion with the beloved Mon­ty Python and the Holy Grail and Mon­ty Python’s Life of Bri­an in which Chap­man liv­ing­ly starred, but it still looks like a for­mi­da­ble effort. And the sur­viv­ing Pythons might tell you, it’d sure­ly hold its own against Yel­low­beard.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Mon­ty Python’s Best Phi­los­o­phy Sketch­es

Mon­ty Python Live at the Hol­ly­wood Bowl: The Com­e­dy Clas­sic

Alan Watts and His Zen Wis­dom Ani­mat­ed by Cre­ators of South Park

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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