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The Biopic Epidemic

How Biopics Are Misrepresenting The Stories Of Influential Rock Stars
Im Not There: Top row, starting left, Marcus Carl Franklin, Cate Blanchett and Ben Whishaw. Bottom, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Richard Gere, the faces of Bob Dylan.
I’m Not There: Top row, starting left, Marcus Carl Franklin, Cate Blanchett and Ben Whishaw. Bottom, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Richard Gere, the faces of Bob Dylan.

In recent years, it seems as though the biopic movie is a common cash-grab route in the film industry. Whether it’s following the humble beginnings of influential British rock bands, or shedding light on the prophets who preach their truths through music, the biopic is no stranger to misrepresenting the many influential figures in show business. 

Now, that is not to say that all recent biopics have undermined the talent of these musicians. The movie, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which follows the lives of Brian May, John Deacon, Roger Taylor, and Freddie Mercury, all members of the world-renowned band, Queen, did a good job celebrating the achievements of the band, and in a way brought the beloved lead singer Freddie Mercury back to life. Although the movie had its own criticisms with misconstrued timelines, glossing over darker moments within the band, and inaccuracies about Mercury’s friendships, it did one thing entirely right: it highlighted the triumphs of the band as authentically as it could. 

By featuring a 20-minute set with actual vocals from Queen performed at the famous Live-Aid concert, it highlights a, “Brilliant use of an incredible soundtrack which culminates in an epic reenactment of the famous 1985’s show”, as perfectly described by Rotten Tomatoes. 

Where this biopic does right is exactly where many others fall short. With the announcement of the Bob Dylan biopic, “A Complete Unknown”, and Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black”, I am mentally preparing myself to be entirely underwhelmed by the productions, especially the Bob Dylan feature. 

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As a self-proclaimed Dylan enthusiast, it is a well-known fact that Dylan is a hard person to put one’s finger on. As one of the most elusive and mysterious musicians of the ’60s and beyond, Dylan’s ascendance into the folk world at the age of 19 is a phenomenon to many – me included. There is no way to define him, and I am almost certain that a 2-hour feature film with millionaire lead actor Chalamet will fail to do the turmoil, controversy, and cultural reset that came with Dylan’s career justice.    

In fact, there is already an entirely great biopic about Bob Dylan titled, “I’m Not There”, featuring 6 different actors and actresses to represent Dylan at different stages of his career. Just as the public thought they had Dylan figured out, he would jump to the next thing. This film captures that unique essence eloquently, and I have my doubts that the newest feature film will live up to this storytelling. The oversaturation of these artists exhausts their work: if there is already an adequate biopic, pick a different artist. Still, when the film comes out, I hope and pray to be proven wrong. 

That, at its core, is my issue with the overproduction of biopics. Time and time again, they fail to tell the real stories of influential individuals and their genuine impact on the world. “Bob Marley: One Love”, failed to bring justice to the brilliant prophet Bob Marley and the peace that was birthed from his art. “Back To Black” painted Amy Winehouse as a rude and pretentious woman, and did not sufficiently address the hardship that took place in her personal life. These examples merely touch the surface of the biopic cash grab, with many more movies that fall under this category. 

Why don’t we let art be art, and let the stories of these individuals tell themselves? Or, spend time understanding, learning, and immersing ourselves in the complex and nuanced lives of these people, so that we can adequately share their stories without misrepresenting the messages they have worked so hard to produce. There is no rush to tell these stories, and with the right time spent on them, beautiful retellings are born. 

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About the Contributor
Nadia Kostecka
Nadia Kostecka, Editor
Nadia Kostecka, a senior, reintroduces herself to The Miter as an editor. During her second year on the team, she is eager to inform and inspire her peers on local and world wide news. At Blanchet, Nadia finds herself especially connected to the English and History classes the school has to offer. Outside of these educational interests, she loves to explore new music and jam out to the songs she already knows. When she’s not listening to music, she’s usually outdoors with friends or watching her favorite movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox, while cuddling her cats. Maintaining fun and creative fashion is one of Nadia’s top priorities, along with spending time in nature with good music, food, and people.   This year, Nadia is looking forward to understanding the stories of her classmates. With the privilege of writing for the school paper and working on the Pallium, she gets to learn about the individuals that make the Blanchet community the beautiful place it is. With this in mind, her main goal this year is to showcase what each individual brings to the BBHS community and embrace each person’s differences. This is a big task, but she knows that with the help of her amazing staff, it will be easily achievable.

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