Adapting a person’s biography for the screen is difficult not only for copyright reasons and for gaining the approval of the family but also because it is difficult to do justice to a person’s life without making them look like a caricature. Biopics allow us to face common struggles and identify with the protagonist, as well as creating strong feelings of admiration, doubt or even hate.
Directed by Ed Harris, Pollock is a realistic depiction of the artistic process, following the painter’s creative moments from the invention of his famous dripping technique to the factors that lead him to depression and alcoholism. Also the lead actor, Harris brilliantly portrays Jackson Pollock as a troubled genius, while Marcia Gay Harden as Pollock’s wife Lee Krasner gives an outstanding performance that earned her an Oscar for best actress in a supporting role. Scene that stands out: As Pollock stands silently in front of a blank wall-length canvas.
The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro)
The Sea Inside Of Me is a Spanish movie released in cinemas in 2004 and revolves around a delicate theme: euthanasia. Ramón ended up a quadriplegic after a diving accident and for 28 years fought in favor of euthanasia and everyone’s right to their own life. Having the church and the Spanish state not grant him his demand of choosing to end his own life, he kept fighting for his rights, having the love and the support of his lawyer Julia. However, Rosa, a local woman who has feelings for him, tries to convince him that life is worth living. Thus, it is a powerful drama based on a true story, with an amazing performance by Javier Bardem as a middle-aged man trapped in a hospital bed for 28 years. The movie deservedly won for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. Scene that stands out: Ramón starring outside the window to find himself walking in a beach with Julia.
This 1984 American period drama directed by Miloš Forman and adapted from Shaffer’s stage play Amadeus mostly explores the conflicted emotions of Salieri for Mozart both as person and as an artist. The story is set in Vienna, Austria, during the latter half of the 18th century and covers the last ten years of Mozart’s life. From 1781 until 1791, the film follows Mozart’s triumphs and everyday life as viewed by Salieri, the Court Composer to Emperor Joseph II. The choice of the film’s title as Amadeus and not Mozart revolves around the essence of the story. ‘Amadeus’ means ‘Beloved of God,’ and this fits perfectly with Salieri’s view that Mozart had been overly gifted without deserving it, filling him with destructive envy. Amadeus was awarded with numerous awards, including eight Academy Awards. Scene that stands out: Mozart dictates his requiem to Salieri.
A Beautiful Mind
Directed by Ron Howard, the 2001 American biographical drama film is based on the life of John Nash. A Beautiful Mind depicts his life from his years at university to developing paranoid schizophrenia to being awarded with the Nobel Prize for groundbreaking theory. This movie fully explores its protagonist’s life from adulthood, resulting in an amazing performance by an incredibly versatile Russell Crowe who portrayed the development of a man from the age of 19 to 60. Jennifer Connelly gives the character of Nash’s wife depth and emotion. Lastly, the brilliant supporting cast, including Ed Harris, Paul Bettany, and Adam Goldberg, perfectly create the haunting environment in which Nash gets lost. The movie won in the best picture, director and supporting actress categories at the Academy Awards. Scene that stands out: Nash in his psychiatrist’s office.
The Last Emperor
The Last Emperor tells the story of the last emperor of China, Pu Yi, from his coronation to his youth and adulthood, and is presented in a dazzling epic directed by Bernardo Bertolucci. Filmed in the Forbidden City, the 1987 film won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. In 1908, three-year-old Pu Yi is crowned Emperor of China, and for the years to come, viewers follow his experiences, decadence, decline, betrayal, denial, imprisonment and the struggle for acceptance. The movie captures the beauty of palaces in the Forbidden City, and the visuals make an incredible story full of colors. Scene that stands out: An old man gives the little emperor a cricket.