And now for something completely different" . . .
Sometimes being dead can bring you more fame. Take Graham Chapman for instance. The Monty Python genius has been dead since 1989, but that didn't stop Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett from making a film about his life. And death. Indeed, Chapman has been shuffling about the heavenly skies, telling everyone in earshot that A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman is “the best film I have been in since I died!"
Chapman was a member of the legendary British TV comedy troupe and had starring roles in the feature films Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python's Life of Brian. But he was largely an enigma, even to his troupe mates John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and animator Terry Gilliam.
The man who co-wrote the immortal "Dead Parrot" sketch became himself "demised" in 1989 at age 48 from tonsil and spinal cancer. He was an alcoholic for decades; fellow Pythons often said Chapman needed “a drink or two face the world;" his drinking also affected his performances during the show’s filming. In fact, while filming the Holy Grail, Chapman suffered from withdrawal symptoms including delirium tremens.
But in seeming preparation for this event, Chapman years earlier recorded himself reading from his book A Liar's Autobiography. Now, the directorial triumvirate, with help from animators at 14 studios, has ingeniously turned those tapes into a hilarious, revealing and poignant look at this creative genius and complicated man.
A Liar’s Autobiography utilizes 17 different animation styles (some of them very Pythonesque) and new contributions from the other Pythons (and surprise guests) to tell the story of the tall, handsome, brilliant comedian. A man of deep contradictions, he lived fairly openly as a gay man at a time when that was rare, but kept his serious drinking problem in the closet.
Not a documentary, not a Monty Python film, A Liar’s Autobiography is Chapman's own take on his bizarre life and his search for self-knowledge. Incredible, yes. Surreal, certainly. True? Who knows? Who cares?
Bring on the wit, raunch and ribald misadventures!
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