Here is an indulgent, but watchable and evocative tribute to the late Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame, who died of cancer in 1989 at the unfunny age of 48.
It uses Chapman’s own audiobook narration of his zanily unreliable A Liar’s Autobiography, Vol VI, first published in 1980, and melds it with many different kinds of animation. The result is interestingly like Ken Russell’s Tommy. Born in wartime, Chapman began life as a teenage fantasist (lonely, bookish, clever) who joined the Footlights at Cambridge, and found himself part of the comedy Beatles themselves: Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
The Mittyish flights of fancy of his youth – flights away from stifling conformity – are matched by the delirious fantasies of his adult years, in flight from the consequences of his addictions, sexual adventures and general unhappiness.
Unlike the other more conventional, heterosexual Pythons, Chapman was gay and proud, and had a talent and aptitude for sensual experimentation and excess not shared by the likes of Pa
lin and Cleese. The film’s depiction of the ugliness and strangeness of his self-hating LA celeb lifestyle is disturbing.Not just for Python fans.