Movie Genres: Biopics–Theory, Definition, Approach

Research in progress, Sep 17, 2022

Samuel Johnson had warned that a biographer may be tempted to invent or conceal (facts)

Difference between biopics and other Hollywood genres?

The prototypical Holly movie fades out once the wedding goal is achieved.

Whereas, many biopics take place withing a marriage context, which is often portrayed as a few years if bliss, then interrupted by outside forces.

Biopics: Actors vs. Stars

The star departed from his/her persona, when the actor/subject combination was compatible, physically and temperamentally

Kirk Douglas as Van Gough in Lust for Life.

Biopics: Oscars

When movies and life come together, the marriage if often troubled.

The 5 magical words: based on a true story, is supposed to confer something special upon any movie that invokes then

Over 18 films, based on a true story, won Best Pictre

As if inspirational stories are more inspiring if they are true

Feel-good movies feel better if we know the events they depict have really happened.

Historical Biopics:

The whole point of historical dramas is to make history spring to life by showing us the emotions and motives of the people who determined those events.


Hollywood’s first intimate epic spectacle

Only 45 minutes of the 212 running time are special effects

Comare to Lawrence of Arabia and Lord of the Rings

Showbiz Biopics:

Lady Sings the Blues, 1972

Buddy Holly Story, The, 1978

Coal Miner’s Daughter, 1980

Sid and Nancy, 1986

La Bamba, 1987

The Doors, 1991

What’s Love Got to Do With It? 1993

Selena, 1997

Ray, 2004

Walk the Line, 2005

Biopics: Noble

How Green Was My Valley: soft, middle-class, middlebrow

Darryl Zanuck dropped some characters, he eliminated the most controversial elements in the book–the labor-capital strife around the strike.