October 8, 2012
Life of Graham
by Nick Davies
Next month, A Liar’s Autobiography, the fictionalized memoirs of Graham Chapman (of the comedy group Monty Python), will be released as an animated 3D film that—despite the irritating ubiquity of the mostly unnecessary 3D gimmick—looks like it could be a lot of fun. Chapman was probably best known for his roles as King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the titular character in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and his autobiography was first published in 1980. It’s unusual for an autobiography not only because it’s fictionalized, but also because it had four authors in addition to Chapman: Alex Martin, Douglas Adams, David A. Yallop, and Chapman’s partner David Sherlock—Graham came out as gay in the 1970s and became a vocal advocate for LGBT rights.
Chapman passed away at age 48 in 1989 after battling tonsil cancer, and in his eulogy, fellow Python John Cleese quoted several lines from the famous “Dead Parrot” sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus that they co-wrote, referring to him as “bereft of life … He’s kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky.” Cleese had also said in an interview that it was Chapman’s idea to use a dead parrot as the object a customer was trying to return, instead of a toaster, as they’d initially intended, wondering, “How can we make this madder?” Thank goodness he did, since that change elevated the sketch from a moderately funny and even relatable bit about customer service to the heights of surreal lunacy that represented Monty Python at its best.
The adaptation of A Liar’s Autobiography was created by fourteen animation studios using seventeen distinct animation styles, and it features the voices of five Monty Python members, including Graham as well as Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam. From the look of the trailer, the filmmakers have managed to capture the aesthetic of Monty Python’s animation while updating it to look modern. You can see the trailer below, and the Huffington Post has an exclusive clip from the movie as well.
Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.