Why are biopics such a popular genre in cinema?

Why are biopics such a popular genre in cinema?

The biopic genre seems to have grown in popularity in recent years. After the highly acclaimed releases of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis and Andrew Dominik’s Blonde in 2022, 2023 has also been punctuated by biopics.

This includes Christopher Nolan’s drama about Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, Ridley Scott’s fresco dedicated to Bonaparte. There’s also Bradley Cooper’s portrait of Leonard Bernstein.

Examining the reasons for their popularity, this article explores how biopics transcend mere historical reenactment to offer a unique experience. It also analyzes their impact, as well as the challenges and controversies surrounding this captivating cinematic genre.

The attraction to prominent personalities

Biopics enjoy enduring popularity due to several key factors. They captivate audiences by telling true stories, but in a more engaging way than documentaries or biographies. Cyberghost created a selection of the best biopics of the last five decades in one of its recent articles and detailed the millions these films have grossed at the box office, in addition to being well-received by critics. All of them, guarantee an enriching experience for the viewers.

Their appeal is particularly strong when they feature prominent figures. This helps capture the audience’s interest by exploring the lives and personal challenges of these individuals. These films also preserve a degree of artistic freedom in interpreting their journeys. Although biopics generally aim to present a balanced picture of their subjects, they can sometimes stray from historical truth.

The most anticipated biopics in 2024

These biopics promise to captivate viewers in 2024 with their compelling stories and remarkable performances:

  • Back to Black by Sam Taylor-Johnson. A musical biopic about Amy Winehouse.
  • Maria by Pablo Larraín. Angelina Jolie plays the singer Maria Callas in the 1970s.
  • Ferrari by Michael Mann. Penélope Cruz and Adam Driver in a biopic about Enzo Ferrari, directed by Michael Mann.
  • Mr. Aznavour by Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir. Tahar Rahim as Charles Aznavour, retracing his career in the 1950s.
  • Bob Marley: One Love by Reinaldo Marcus Green. Kingsley Ben-Adir stars as Bob Marley, exploring his personal life and musical impact on 1970s Jamaica.
  • A Complete Unknown by James Mangold. Timothée Chalamet stars as Bob Dylan, exploring the rocker’s fascinating trajectory.

A genre that has been rewarded but also criticized

Biopics are often praised for their ability to embody famous figures and their remarkable performances. A success that has been consolidated since the 80s with many Oscars won by actors and actresses. Despite this recognition, the genre faces a mixed perception. According to Professor Dennis Bingham, it does not reach the glorious status of other film genres.

Indeed, embodying a well-known personality can be an immense challenge. Critics and audiences scrutinize every detail, from voice to facial expressions, from costumes to prosthetics. He often compares the performance to the historical reality available through interviews, biographies and other accessible resources.

In particular, biopics centered on female figures tend to focus on personal suffering and challenges rather than their achievements. According to Dennis Bingham, these films often perpetuate narratives of victimization and failure, a trend that is still observed today.

A genre that captivates and moves

Biopics continue to captivate and move a wide audience with their unique ability to bring historical figures to life through film. Despite their popularity and ability to garner prestigious awards, such as the Oscar, these films are not immune to criticism.

They are sometimes accused of simplifying or distorting reality in favor of a more spectacular or emotional narrative. However, they have the power to transform historical figures into modern icons and to provoke reflection on the past and the present. It is therefore an essential and always relevant cinematographic genre.

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