KATIE HIRV, TRUMPET STAFF WRITER
Hollywood goes in and out of phases, and one of its most recent phases biopics are on the rise.
“It’s a contraction of words – biographical picture,” Dr. Joyce Boss, professor of English, said. “I think of a movie which depicts the life of someone who would be well known in some way or significant in some way.”
Biopics are films based off the life of a historical figure. However, this film genre differs from documentaries. Biopics dramatize events and aim toward entertainment value in order to tell a story based on true events, whereas documentaries emphasize facts while providing less or no dramatization.
“A documentary does its best to be more like a visual essay where they are talking to real people who know the person that’s the subject of the,” Dr. Amy Nolan, associate professor of English, said.
“A biopic, it’s more dramatized, so you have casting for actors to play the parts of the person and people that surrounded him or her.” Several biopics have gained major traction and been revolutionary for their time, including “Straight Outta Compton” (2015), “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018), “Rocket Man” (2019) and “The Theory of Everything” (2014).
Recently, “Bohemian Rhapsody” received massive amounts of attention and success. This film centers around the stardom of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen, with glimpses into the private life of Mercury.
“Back in the 1970s and 1980s when Elton John was becoming very big and Queen was getting very big, there was no social media,” Boss said. “So everything we “knew” about these people whose music we enjoyed…or felt close to, there was a desire for the fans to get as close as possible.”
Due to the lack of social media when bands such as Queen were popular, there were no online groups or fan-based accounts where fans could interact with one another.
Having a biopic created about a music group might provide fans with a sense of nostalgia, with the ability to reminisce in a time when the biopic viewer’s favorite artist was a household name. “We have a fascination with going back to times…we can look at history with a more critical and more compassionate eye,” says Nolan.
“In some cases, biopics are very appealing because they give us a fresh view of a history we thought we understood.” With these insights, the draw to biopics may be more than the entertainment value movies are expected to provide.
Biopics provide an inside glimpse into the lives of influential figures throughout history, specifically those with large platforms or fan followings.