For Monty Python fans one of the big attractions of the Toronto Film Festival has been a new film devoted to the late Graham Chapman – one of the stars of the legendary BBC TV comedy series of forty years ago.
The 3D film – which is called A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman is an elaborate undertaking. It uses audio recordings of Chapman reading his partly fictionalized memoirs as the spine of a visually stimulating film that involved fourteen animation studios working in different styles.
Despite its hybrid nature Monty Python member Terry Jones, whose son Bill was one of the picture’s three directors, sees the final result very much as a feature film. He says: “It has a story about a slightly troubled man who is openly gay but alcoholic in secret. It’s about his struggle to come to terms with that and himself and who he is.” (WATCH INTERVIEW
Jones worked closely with Chapman professionally but there’s a lot he didn’t know. He says: “We didn’t know he was alcoholic at the time but when he had to stop it he went on television and talked about his alcoholism saying he was drinking 3 bottles of gin a day – and talked openly about it. He faced up to his problems. I didn’t feel I knew him at all and I think he was a shy man and he was always acting a part in some way.”
Terry Jones voices the animated version of himself in the film – as well that of Graham Chapman’s mother. Chapman died of throat cancer in 1989 at the age of 48. He thinks the late Python star would be pleased with the movie.
Jones says: “I think it encapsulates him incredibly – it’s get his wildness with the animation – and his enigma as well – because I think he was a man who was looking for who to be.”
A Liar’s Autobiography – The Secret Life of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman will arrive in cinemas and be shown on EPIX on November 2.