A Liar’s Autobiography – Reviewed
Of all the members of the Python team, Chapman was the most troubled, which is sadly what makes this film so fascinating…
His death from cancer at the age of 48 (can it really be over 20 years ago?) was a shock, but no real surprise given his years of pipe smoking and heavy drinking. The film is an animation in the spirit of Yellow Submarine, as parts of it were given to a whole range of different studios, each of whom leant their own style to illustrating different parts of his life. Chapman himself is the major featured voice, as he very considerately narrated an audio version of his book, before selfishly dying, leaving the other members of the team, including Carol Cleveland, but not Eric Idle, to voice themselves and the supporting characters. He provides an insight to the parts of his life he wants us to see, however unreliable that might be, and is on the whole more disturbing than it is funny.
His flights of fantasy and self-loathing at the LA life-style he ended up living, are marvellously depicted in a way only an animated film could really do justice to, and it’s good to see serious animated films like this being made. TV footage from Monty Python makes a couple of appearances, and film of John Cleese’s eulogy at Chapman’s funeral is a highlight, but the real star is the whole idea of bringing Graham back to life at all different stages of his life via a variety of animation techniques. After all these years, Monty Python have actually achieved something completely different with an unusual film, well worth viewing.
Words by Mark Perkins