Here’s the newly released trailer for A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, a film that we expect to hear a lot more about as Oscar season approaches. The 82-minute production, directed by Ben Timlett, Bill Jones, and Jeff Simpson, used 14 different studios to create its mixed-media animation sequences: A for Animation, ArthurCox, Beakus, Cake, Made Visual Studio, Mr & Mrs, Not To Scale, Peepshow, Sherbet, Steven Lall, Superfad, Treat Studios, Trunk and Tundra.
Reading the film synopsis, it sounds like the kind of original, totally left field production that is rare in contemporary feature animation:
Comedian, actor, physician, mountaineer, rugby enthusiast, pipe smoker, alcoholic and consummate Englishman — the late Graham Chapman was a man for all seasons. But this member of Monty Python was not one to let his already colourful life prevent him from making up an even wilder one. Published in 1980, Chapman’s outrageously false memoir A Liar’s Autobiography (Volume VI) — credited to Chapman and four others, including Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams — was a work of blithe, unashamed and inspired fiction. And it has now inspired this insanely entertaining animated biopic-in 3-D, no less.
Despite being dead for twenty-three years, Chapman himself is the star of the show, thanks to forty-five minutes of newly discovered audio recordings of readings from Liar’s done in Harry Nilsson’s studio. Fifteen different groups of animators bring Chapman’s dubious remembrances to life in a dizzying array of styles. Four-fifths of Chapman’s former Python comrades — John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam — crop up throughout, playing themselves and various other equally dubious characters Chapman encounters on his journeys. Whisking through Chapman’s sadly foreshortened life — he died of cancer in 1989, aged forty-eight — A Liar’s Autobiography recounts his years in medical school, his first meeting with longtime writing partner Cleese at Cambridge, the high days of Pythonage, his coming-out as a gay man (or seventy percent gay, according to a survey he conducted on himself), and, of course, his abduction and transport to the heavens by space aliens at the end of the eighties. Even cancer, it seems, cannot vanquish the truly inveterate liar.
The film will debut this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival. It will air later this year on EPIX, as well as have a limited 3-D theatrical release in the US through Brainstorm Media. UK and Canada will also have theatrical releases.