A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman

89 minutes 2012

If you buy the theory advanced by George Harrison that the Monty Python troupe picked up the countercultural baton from the Beatles in 1969, then this is the Pythons' "Free As a Bird"—a reunion of sorts around an old recording of a lost member. The producers (including Bill Jones, son of Python Terry Jones) acquired an unreleased 45-minute tape of Graham Chapman reading from his book A Liar's Autobiography three years before he died of cancer in 1989. The farcical story provides an intriguing look at Chapman's cloistered youth, his creative flowering at Cambridge, his bold decision to come out of the closet, his secret alcoholism, and of course his career with the Pythons. Additional voices were recorded by Terry Jones, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Carol Cleveland, and the story was farmed out to 15 different animation companies. The resulting chapters vary in style and inspiration, though you can't beat the opening one, a Gilliam-esque sequence using cutout photos of the Pythons in costume; as they perform their Oscar Wilde sketch on the Broadway stage, Chapman falls to the floor, the ceiling opens up, and a phallic spacecraft abducts him.

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