The biographical film or biopic is a staple of film production in all major film industries and yet, within film studies, its generic, aesthetic, and cultural significance has remained underexplored. The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture fills this gap, conceptualizing the biopic with a particular eye toward the "life" of the genre internationally. New theoretical approaches combine with specially commissioned chapters on contemporary biographical film production in India, Italy, South Korea, France, Russia, Great Britain, and the US, in order to present a selective but well-rounded portrait of the biopic’s place in film culture.
From Marie Antoinette to The Social Network, the pieces in this volume critically examine the place of the biopic within ongoing debates about how cinema can and should represent history and "real lives." Contributors discuss the biopic’s grounding in the conventions of the historical film, and explore the genre’s defining traits as well as its potential for innovation. The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture expands the critical boundaries of this evolving, versatile genre.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Biopic and its Critical Contexts - Belén Vidal
I. Cultural Shifts
1. Facebooking the Present: the Biopic and Cultural Instantaneity - Rebecca A. Sheehan
2. The Contemporary French Biopic in National and International Contexts - Raphaëlle Moine
3. The Biopic of the New Middle Classes in Contemporary Hindi Cinema - Rachel Dwyer
4. Recycling Historical Lives: South Korean Period Biopics and the Culture Content Industry - Yun Mi Hwang
II. Cycles and Performance
5. Performing Performers: Embodiment and Intertextuality in the Contemporary Biopic - Lucy Fife Donaldson
6. Consensual Pleasures: Amazing Grace, Oratory and the Middlebrow Biopic - Tom Brown
7. Morgan/Sheen: The Compressed Frame of Impersonation - Belén Vidal
8. Gender, Genius and Abjection in Artist Biopics - Julie F. Codell
9. Chanel on Screen: Female Biopics in the Age of Global Branding - Ginette Vincendeau
III. Icons and Auteurs
10. Cinematic Boundaries: Aleksandr Sokurov’s The Sun as Liminal Biopic - Alastair Phillips
11. History in the Making: Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette and the New Auteurism - Pam Cook
12. I’m Not There: Transcendent Thanatography - Jesse Schlotterbeck
13. Il Divo: The Biopic, Counter-History, and Cine/Politics in the 21st Century - Marcia Landy
14. Gainsbourg: Puppetry in the Musical Biopic - Robert Burgoyne
Tom Brown is Lecturer in the Department of Film Studies at King’s College London. He is the editor (with James Walters) of Film Moments: Criticism, History, Theory and (with James Bennett) of Film and Television after DVD, and the author of Breaking the Fourth Wall: Direct Address in the Cinema.
Belén Vidal is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Film Studies at King’s College London. She is the author of Figuring the Past: Period Film and the Mannerist Aesthetic and The Heritage Film: Nation, Genre, and Representation. She is the co-editor of Cinema at the Periphery.