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When Graham Chapman died from cancer in 1989, it was thought the dream of a proper Monty Python reunion died with him. Chapman was one of the most pivotal pieces in the Python circus, you probably know him best as King Arthur in Holy Grail. But death is no obstacle to the Pythons, and more than twenty years after Graham’s departure from planet Earth he’s getting the gang back together for a new movie… sort of.
In 1980 Chapman published an autobiography titled A Liar’s Autobiography (Volume VI), detailing his life and his adventures as part of Monty Python’s legendary comedy troupe. As luck would have it, he also recorded an audio book, and now that aged recording of his voice is being spliced together along with newly recorded voices of all the other Pythons in a strange sounding animated movie about his life as an out gay man and closeted alcoholic. Strange is exactly what you’d want, when the Pythons are involved.
So far nearly all the ex-Pythons are part of this. The NY Times says that in addition to the ghost of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones will provide voices. Eric Idle is the only hold out, though word is “they’re working on him”, whatever that means.
The movie will be framed by some sort of narrative device in which an animated John Cleese and an animated Graham Chapman go on a bike ride and talk about his life. The other Pythons will step in to play various characters in the story they tell. Michael Palin, for instance, will be Chapman’s father.
Though Gilliam’s doing voice work in the movie, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be involved in any of the actual animation. Gilliam’s original role in the Python troupe was to provide their surreal animation style, but this time it’s being done by thirteen different animation houses each creating brief segments. What’s more it’ll be in some sort of 3D animation style, which means all that awkward, low-tech, and sort of wonderful Python animation you’re used to will probably have no place here. Hey, they’re getting old, they don’t have time for all that stuff.
This doesn’t have a title yet though director Bill Jones seems to be floating Graham Chapman – Dead in 3D out there as a possibility. I think he’d approve. If Eric Idle stops running away long enough to join the cast, this will be a must see for anyone who's ever walked up to a friend and said, “Ni!”
It remains to be seen whether the movie will cover some of Chapman's more controversial views on the wing speed velocity of the unladen swallow and its role in the migration of coconuts: