You've probably seen a biopic if you've ever seen a biographical film about a famous person's life. What, therefore, distinguishes a biopic from a documentary?
A biopic (short for "biographical picture") is a non-fictional film that portrays the life narrative of a real person. Biopic films usually focus on a historical figure or a well-known personality, but they can be about anyone—as long as the person exists or has been in real life. Biopics aren't necessarily all historical dramas or films based on genuine events. A biopic film must focus on a single protagonist and depict their life narrative over a long period (rather than just one event or timeframe).
One of the best ways to communicate a tale is through biographical cinema. They may put flesh on words and provide insight into a person's decisions, the experiences that shaped them, and their quest for happiness, whether they are completely factual or not. The Culture Trip has compiled a list of the top ten biopics, which you can find below.
Adapting a person's biography for the film is tough not only because of copyright issues and securing family approval but also because it's difficult to do justice to a person's life without making them appear caricature-like. Biopics allow us to empathize with the protagonist and face common challenges, as well as elicit intense emotions of adoration, uncertainty, and even hatred.
3 Characteristics of a Biopic.
When you watch a biopic, you'll notice the following features in the film.
1. Biopics are focused on a single protagonist
This is why many biographical films just have the protagonist's name as the title. Ali, Gandhi, Malcolm X, Patton, and Selena are just a few of the many people that fit this description. In other cases, the main character is a small group of real individuals, most commonly a band. The rap group N.W.A. takes centre stage in F. Gary Gray's Straight Outta Compton.
2. Multiple occasions are covered
A biopic doesn't have to depict the protagonist's complete life from conception to death, but it should depict a significant amount of it. A biopic is defined as a film that depicts the story of a single event in the life of a real person. The true narrative of the three real astronauts who flew the Apollo 13 mission to the moon, for example, is told in Ron Howard's film Apollo 13. Because it concentrates entirely on that one event and does not follow the astronauts' lives after that, this film is not technically a biography.
Biopic filmmakers frequently deviate from the subject's life story. To heighten the tension and create a more engaging film, they may shorten timelines, delete information, and rework critical conversations. Some biopics, like Steve Jobs, directed by Danny Boyle and scripted by Aaron Sorkin, employ surface-level facts about a person as a framework for a somewhat fictional narrative.
Biopics: Ten Examples
Learn about biopic examples to get a better understanding of the film genre.
1. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Ron Howard's critically praised biopic of American mathematician John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
2. For his depiction of Queen leader Freddie Mercury in the musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Rami Malek won the Academy Award for Best Actor.
3. Todd Haynes' unorthodox biography of Bob Dylan, I'm Not There (2007)
Casts six different actors to portray Dylan's multiple personalities.
4. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
David Lean's biopic about British archaeologist and army officer T.E. Lawrence won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
5. In this historical biopic produced by Steven Spielberg, Daniel-Day Lewis
Received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his depiction of former US President Abraham Lincoln.
6. Nixon (1995): This biopic, directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Anthony Hopkins as former US President Richard Nixon, was released in 1995. Four Academy Award nominations were given to Nixon.
7. Ray (2004) is a biopic about the iconic blues artist Ray Charles, directed by Taylor Hackford.
For his portrayal of Charles, Jamie Foxx earned an Academy Award for Best Actor.
8. Jennifer Lopez makes her breakthrough performance as Mexican-American singer Selena
In Gregory Nava's musical biography Selena (1997).
9. David Fincher directed this biopic on Mark Zuckerberg's creation of Facebook,
The Social Network (2010). Aaron Sorkin, who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, wrote the screenplay.
10. The Theory of Everything (2007): Based on Stephen Hawking's ex-wife Jane Hawking's memoir
This biopic follows the great theoretical physicist's life and relationships. For his portrayal of Hawking, Eddie Redmayne received an Academy Award for Best Actor.
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