When Making a Biographical Film

You must do the following:

  • Represent the person’s entire life as a series of grand cliches.
  • If the person produced something (scientific, artistic), have their character experience something verging on mystical that will inevitably lead them to their breakthrough.
  • Bog down truly dramatic moments by presenting them as those most boring cinematic shorthand possible- rush to the hospital, physical collapse which represents the inevitable tragedy of person
  • Try to wrap the movie in ideas and images you don’t really understand, but believe reflect the person’s intent or creation.
  • Politics is taken as nothing more than scenery- another roadsign on the highway through their life.

    Granted, you are condensing a person’s life into a few hours, so you are going to have to do some condensing, but all of these movies are the same- Pollack, Friday, A Beautiful Mind, Kinsey– they are all more or less the same. It always feel like by trying to tell the story of a person’s life, they forget about that person’s humanity, what they truly did, their relevance. I’m not sure if part of it is a desire to attract an audience or the simple inability for filmmakers to see beyond cliche.

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