Monty Python will reunite to make a film based on the memoirs of the late Graham Chapman.
Graham Chapman was a Monty Python mainstay who found himself laughed at, misunderstood and nailed to a cross while the crowd looked on the bright side. as Brian in the iconic comedy troupe’s 1979 film Life Of Brian. He also played King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The film will be based on Chapman’s 1980 book A Liar’s Autobiography: Volume VI. It will be shot in 3D and feature voice contributions from surviving members John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones. Eric Idle is yet to sign up for the film.
"We would only do a [Monty Python] reunion if Chapman came back from the dead," Idle once told an interviewer. "So we're negotiating with his agent."
In keeping with the skittish, mercurial tone of Chapman's autobiography, the film version will be assembled from a range of contrasting cartoon segments, produced independently by 15 different animation houses. John Cleese is expected to play himself, with Palin co-starring as Chapman's father and Jones mimicking the late comic's mother.
Viewers will also be treated to an audio of Chapman himself reading form his book shortly before his death from cancer in 1989.
According to the New York Times, the picture is the brainchild of producers Ben Tremlett, Jeff Simpson and Bill Jones, the son of former Python Terry Jones. It is set for a theatrical release in the UK next spring.
Educated at Cambridge, Chapman was a founding member of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the groundbreaking comedy show that aired on the BBC between 1969 and 1974, where he was invariably cast as the team's vague, unreliable figure of authority.
Branching out into cinema, Chapman and his collaborators went on to shoot Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and 1983's The Meaning of Life. Holy Grail cast him as an ineffectual King Arthur, with his arrival telegraphed by the clatter of coconut shells, while the controversial Life of Brian remade him in the guise of a hen-pecked Jewish everyman who is mistaken for the son of God. "He's not the messiah," his exasperated mother explains to the faithful. "He's a very naughty boy."
Off-screen, Chapman was notable for being one of the first openly gay celebrities after blithely outing himself on a 70s TV show. But his Python-era heyday was often marred by alcoholism, which reached its nadir on the 1975 set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Speaking at the comic's funeral, Michael Palin quipped that he liked to think that Chapman was with them in spirit – "or at least he will be in about 25 minutes" – a reference to his habit of showing up late.
"Graham's is the story of a man who was openly gay but secretly alcoholic," said producer Jeff Simpson, discussing the film with the New York Times. "This is not the story of Monty Python, it is a man's life."
Monty Python members last came together at London’s Royal Albert Hall on November 29, 2002 for the Concert for George performance, which marked the first anniversary of the death of George Harrison, the Beatles guitarist.
That line up included Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam with the help of Neil Innes, Tom Hanks and the ‘seventh Python’, Carol Cleveland.
Check out a clip of their performance here: