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

Starring: Graham Chapman (actual voice narration), and other voices including John Cleese.
Directed by: Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett

 

 


Being of that group that grew up emerged in Python’s film antics, and having discovered the reruns on PBS, naturally this documentary intrigued and excited me.

The creators found audio of Monty Python's late comedian Graham Chapman and built his somewhat appropriately deceptive autobiography around these, infusing various apropos styles of animation and, it appears, consciences.

That’s not a typo. While the film has such a brilliant concept, it sadly seems as though an editing opportunity was missed. Cerebral is one thing…but, following the story line here is often frustrating while the skip-off-the-words-into-dreamscape in an often odd silence, followed be all-too-long snippets of a well-diluted point, near maddening.

I did not know Chapman. I have heard from his Python mates that he was an extroverted gay fellow who loved to have his fun. The film makers grab this (it is his life's story after all) and create a barrage (too many is what I am saying) of penis fancy footage and cartoons. Maybe, the whole thing was designed for a male audience member and I am missing something…or the animators were not told what the other did?

Chapman was, to me, one helluva funny guy. His sexuality wasn’t his career. Comedy was. I watched hoping to learn about him – lies and all. But grew utterly impatient, even though the visuals before me were often extremely gorgeous. And the fact that this was created long after his passing (amazing), was not lost on me. The film was.

I would love to ask all readers to seek this out. But, I can not. I would ask the film crew to step back, breath, and re-edit and reset. Chapman deserves this to be done right; the heart is there, now ad some brain behind the heading-towards-brilliant-sections please.

There may be a good film in there, if it was more streaming and less discombobulated. And, as a Monty Python fiend, I know how to view discombobulated and stay on the team’s bumpy thought rails…not here. Often I was mentally adrift in a Cleese-like rage he patented towards my screen then Chapman’s voice would settle me back down. Only to be tormented yet again by the flights of fancy that seemed dropped in to create time, not a comedic genius’ time line.


 

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