Given that the Oscars are coming up and Bohemian Rhapsody is nominated, it seems like an apt time to do something different from my usual posts. Musical biopics (biographical pictures) have been a common staple of contemporary movies for a while now. As a little kid I remember seeing movies like The Glen Miller Story or The Benny Goodman Story on TV. More recently there have been hits like Ray or Walk The Line and or course, Bohemian Rhapsody. I can’t say that any of them really knocked me out though I still have yet to see Bird (Charlie Parker) or Don’t Look Back (Bob Dylan). Many of them just seemed to be dramatized versions of the old VH1 series Behind The Music.
This brings me to the video below. Here the music biopic is discussed not from the viewpoint of a music nerd but from the perspective of a film geek. Patrick (H) Willems has a great YouTube channel featuring video essays that analyze movies. Framed and interspersed with an ongoing skit that serves as meta commentary on the music biopic formula, Willems gives a brief history of film biographies in general and music biopics specifically before deconstructing the standard tropes of the genre and the problems they present from a cinematic perspective.
The Broken Formula of Music Biopics –
There are a bunch of artists that I think would be great source material for a biopic.Here’s a idea: George Harrison. The story of someone who has to find himself as an artist while in the shadow of greater artists before the world recognizes his greatness. You have Beatlemania. You have the love triangle between his wife Patti Boyd, his friend Eric Clapton and himself. You have his relationship to Eastern Spiritualism and of course his sad passing. There is a lot there.
Hollywood, call me.