Musicians, especially the ones with a tumultuous life have always been subject of a good movie. Let’s face it, drugs, tragedies, drama, and the struggle for succes are things which move people in a good way.
Music biopics, or biographical movies about musicians can be fascinating stories for everybody. You don’t have to a be listening to the music of a certain artist to see his/her story and still learn a valuable lesson.
Although biographies aren’t regarded as particularly interesting movies, because of their conventionality, we’ll show you in the following 5 great movies in which a biography is be presented in the most appealling way.
#5. I’m Not There (2007)
Artist: Bob Dylan
Director: Todd Haynes
Who said that biographies are conventional? This movie is the perfect example for unconventional ass kicking biographical movies: six characters (including a woman) interpret the different facets of Bob Dylan. The movie begins with the caption ‘Inspired by the music and many lives of Bob Dylan’, this being the only place where his name appears in the movie.
So six different stories, each one telling a story about Dylan’s personal or professional life in one point, are presented, without mentioning anywhere that the subject is Bob Dylan. Perhaps the most stunning performance is Cate Blanchett, who represents the time when Dylan switched to electric guitar.
#4. The Doors (1991)
Artist: Jim Morrison
Director: Oliver Stone
The movie follows Jim Morrison in his journey to success, from the days when he was a film student, until his death in Paris in 1971. Beyond the facts of the story, the movies breaths with Morrison’s self-obsession of the Lizard King, psychedelic drugs, and alcoholism. Van Kilmer, the one who plays Jim Morrison, not only looks a lot like him, but also sounds like him.
#3. Walk the Line (2005)
Artist: Johny Cash
Director: James Mangold
Walk the line is the story of young Johny Cash who leaves his town to join the air force and buys his own guitar. From this point, the rest just flows naturally: he gets married, starts to sing in a band, and ultimately falls in love with June Carter, who becomes his wife later. In his way to succes he also fights with drug abuse, but unlike Morrison, he overcomes it with the help of love.
The movie is acclaimed for showing the artists’ flaws as well as his achievements – see the concert at Folsom Prison, which became a legend. Witherspoon and Phoenix performances brought them Best Actors nominations and wins (Reese won Oscar for Best Actress), as they did the singing themselves and they did it pretty well.
#2. Ray (2004)
Artist: Ray Charles
Director: Taylor Hackfordr
The story of Ray as a child and Ray gaining his reputation interfere in this brilliant touchy movie. Ray, played by Jamie Foxx, is portrayed in thirty years, as he revolutionizes jazz and country and combines it with gospel. Georgia on my mind, I got a woman and What I’d say are just some of the hits that make his unique sound and we assist at their birth in the movie, as well as Ray’s struggle to fight drug addiction, his infidelities and his fight against prejudices.
#1. La vie en rose (2007)
Artist: Edith Piaf
Director: Olivier Dahan
The movie which brought Marion Cotillard into the spotlight, winning her over 7 prizes as Best Actress and an Oscar, as she portrayes Edith Piaf from the age of 17 – 47, is related in a back and forth manner.
Little Edith, with an alcoholic street singer as a mother, an acrobat as a father, and grandmother owner of a brothel finds herself having a powerful voice. At her 20’s she’s discovered street performing, and since then her career is boosting as she’s trained by Raymond Asso, and starts giving concerts in Paris, and then in Europe and U.S. Her drama includes morphine dependence and the death of her lover, boxer Marcel Cerdan.
The end of the movie presents an old Edith, but singing powerfully one of her signature songs which describes her so well Non, je ne regrette rien.
The list is more of a personal selection, it’s definetely not an exhaustive one. There are a lot of movies that can be mentioned, but more on that later.
What’s your favourite music biopic anyway? If you could make a top 5, what would that be?