Nine years before his death Monty Python member Graham Chapman wrote a fictional autobiography entitled The Liar’s Autobiography. Shortly before his death Chapman recording a reading of the book and now, 23 years after his death, these tapes have been made into an animated film featuring four other Pythons, three directors, and 17 animation styles provided by 14 different animation studios. The result is mind-blowing, brain-boggling, utterly fascinating, and endlessly revealing.
The mix of animation styles and the wild free-wheeling nature of the film makes for an attention grabbing watch. We are taken from a childhood memory to an aerial fantasy though to the Pythons as monkeys via the painted horror of a man overcoming alcohol addiction and a fairground tour of University based sexual exploits led by Chapman riding in a mechanical penis. It’s impossible to become bored as the film grabs you by the navel and pulls you from one direction to the next.
You may have noticed mention of a mechanical penis back there. While this is an animated film it is quite rightly rated at a 15 age certificate. Chapman’s was a life at times filled with sex and the film does not shy away from showing this is surprisingly graphic detail. Comically graphic detail I should say. There is no part of the film that isn’t presented with a wry smile and a charming sense of humour.
While most of the events we are shown were clearly fictional the whole film smacks of a truth that goes beyond whether or not any of it actually happened. What we are seeing is not an autobiography in a traditional sense but a visual representation of a character as a whole rather that the character’s life.
Any fan of Graham Chapman or Monty Python will love the film. I’ve never been a huge fan and I found A Liar’s Autobiography to be a delightfully surreal trip inside the mind of a comedy legend.