Monty Python: Almost the Truth
If you are a Python fan and have not seen Monty Python: Almost the Truth than you must stop reading this (well you can finish reading this if you’d like) and watch it immediately. Even if you’ve only ever seen The Holy Grail I urge you to watch this and edumacate yourself. It’s on Netflix Instant and has been for some time. While it is a six episode documentary with each episode being roughly 50 minutes, don’t let that put you off. I watched it over the course of a week and I wish I could have seen more.
The documentary starts with the Python boys when they were boys all the way through their films and where they are all sort of at now. The doc uses a lot of archive footage, both video and stills. Once they start talking about sketches you’ll get to watch some of them in their entirety. You also have some interviews with some current comedians like Eddie Izzard, Steve Coogan, and Russell Brand among others. None of those interviews are used a lot. THey are very brief bits put in to give you some spacing and to help the flow
Each episode of the doc generally focuses on one area. The first ones are a bit mixed up as you see the Pythons as boys and discuss their upbringing. Then you movie on to their university years and post university years where they all did various sorts of things. Finally you get into the creation and production of Flying Circus and slowly move into discuss the live shows and move to America. Their first movie is crammed in there and then the next episodes are basically devoted almost one per movie to The Holy Grail, Life of Brian, and the Meaning of Life and the end of Python.
You get some great stuff out of the Python stars. Their interviews are all away from each other so you hear each of them grumble about another member every now and then. Actually one thing you get from watching the doc is that they really didn’t get a long a lot of the time. They were close friends who hung out with each other all the time, but were just some dude who they worked with and mostly enjoyed working with.
John Cleese is hard to figure in his interview. There are times when he is genuinely talking crap about someone and there are other times where I’m pretty sure he was just messing about, but he plays it straight (as usual) so it is hard to tell at times.
Eric Idle, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, and Terry Jones are all still alive (unless something has happened so recently that I’ve somehow missed hearing about this.). Graham Chapman however is dead and was not alive when they made this. He is still in it. A lot of the other Python members talk about him and the doc uses collaborators of the Python’s frequently and you get some stuff about Graham from them. The doc uses quite a bit of archive footage of Graham, especially past interviews to help give him a voice.
The documentary is actually quite brilliant on its own. It flows wonderfully and everything is nice and balanced out. That and the material is just outstanding. It is about the lives of the Python members. It is about their lives and how it tied to Python. It isn’t simply “oh this is how we made this sketch or this movie” but what they went through during this whole Monty Python madness. Everyone must watch it.