Monty Python’s Graham Chapman Misremembered in ‘A Liar’s Autobiography’

10.22.2012

By Alex Panisch

It’s not a Python movie; it’s something completely different

You may remember Graham Chapman as King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and/or Brian Cohen from Life of Brian. You may also remember him as “the gay one from Monty Python” and “the dead one from Monty Python.” Whatever you think you know about Chapman, get ready for it all to be questioned in the upcoming animated film about his life (and death). 

A Liar’s Autobiography, an animated film based on the book of the same title, which isn’t much of an autobiography. Plus, to get even stranger: despite having up and died in 1989, Chapman narrates the sort-of autobiography that is kind-of about his life. It’s more a fictionalized account of Chapman’s life that credits six different authors. Thanks to some recordings he made of himself reading the book, Chapman is able to posthumously present his own faux-bio, subverting pop culture posthumously. If a memoir of purposely-dubious veracity written by six people and narrated by its subject from beyond the grave isn’t strange enough, the whole thing is in 3D.

Yes, save for a few clips of archival footage, the entire film is animated—and animated brilliantly. Fourteen different animation companies worked in 17 different styles to render the film in eye-popping, colorful splendor. In fact, you should try to see the film in cinemas so that you can see the weird 3D—just becasue.

Though Chapman narrates the film, a who’s who of comedy legends make guest (voice) appearances as well. There are of course some of the other Pythons—John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam—as well as some staples of British film and television, including Stephen Fry and Philip Bulcock. But a few come out of left field: Cameron Diaz as Sigmund Freud, for example.

It may be unorthodox, in both concept and execution, but A Liar’s Autobiography works brilliantly as film. The use of animation harkens back to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, while Chapman’s own bizarre account of his life is full of the non-sequiturs and nonsense that epitomized the Python style of humor beloved by generations. Because the animation styles are each so different, they keep the film visually interesting. But you could also use a little bit of chemical inducement since, while the film is very funny at times, it does not shy away from the more tragic aspects of Chapman’s life. Comedic and tragic, fact and fiction, A Liar’s Autobiography transcends boundaries and serves as an appropriate and entertaining testament to the life of a comedic legend.

A Liar’s Autobiography comes out in select theaters and on EPIX on November 2. Watch the trailer below:

 

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