Before Monty Python Graham Chapman died in 1989 of cancer, he made audio recordings of his memoirs, the 1980 book ‘A Liar’s Autobiography’. The remainder of the pythons announced in June 2011 that they were adding their voices to Graham’s and producing an animated version of the book. All except Eric Idle for some reason. Graham’s last words were rumoured to be “Sorry for saying fuck” to a nurse who stuck a needle in his arm shortly before he died.
Well, I sat down to watch the results recently and as the lights dimmed and the BBFC logo faded to black, the title screen popped up with a blur – it was out of focus. I huffed out into the foyer and said “Can somebody please go and focus the screen in cinema 2”, to which the man replied “You do know it’s a 3D screening don’t you?”. Great. Not to be beaten I donned my 3D specs (on-top of my existing specs) and retook my seat.
One of the earlier scenes with Graham and his parents (voiced by Michael Palin and Terry Jones) is classic Python. Very fastidious and very amusing. The tone shifts rapidly though, as the film is made with 14 different animation houses contributing a section each. This results in a scatty film, with rapidly shifting visual styles and narrative focuses. Early on, a scene where all the pythons are portrayed as monkeys and voiced by Graham is just unnecessarily baffling.
As Graham narrates his life, huge sections of achievement with the pythons and with TV and film are ignored, probably reflecting the character of the man who felt he didn’t deserve his fame, and the film spends a lot of time on his sexual discovery and his alcoholism. I enjoyed the song “Sit On My Face And Tell Me That You Love Me”, but that is a previous Python song. I also enjoyed the clip of John Cleese’s speech at Graham’s funeral (worth watching if you haven’t seen it – ) but it says something that the funniest moments of the film were a song from 1980 and a funeral speech from 1989.
And blimey, how I HATED the 3D! It is so unnecessary, such a gimmick, darkens the screen, tires your eyes and the glasses get uncomfortable after half an hour! I hated the 3D experience so much that I’ve contorted a couple of pairs of specs and made anti-3D glasses, so at least I can watch a 3D film in 2D if I ever come across one again.
Film – 2 on 5
3D – 0 on 5
Directed by – Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, Ben Timlett
Starring – Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Philip Bulcock
UK Release – 8th February 2013