With the ultra-success of ‘Sanju’, a look at biopics that were off the mainstream

Posted on July 4, 2018

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Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/with-the-ultra-success-of-rajkumar-hiranis-sanju-a-look-at-biopics-that-were-off-the-mainstream-4665361.html

With Sanju proving to be a monster crowd-pleaser, I thought I’d write about more eccentric biopics this week. Biography in cinema isn’t easy. A biographical book, like Irving Stone’s The Agony and the Ecstasy, chronicling the life of Michelangelo, lets us know how the protagonist really feels about his work, his art. “He had removed the outer shell [of the stone]. Now he dug into the mass, entered in the biblical sense. In this act of creation there was needed the thrust, the penetration, the beating and pulsating upward to a mighty climax, the total possession. It was not merely an act of love, it was the act of love: the mating of his own inner patterns to the inherent forms of the marble; an insemination in which he planted seed, created the living work of art.”

Despite the overwrought prose (or perhaps because of it), we grasp the interiority of a creator’s mindscape. The author’s words tell us what Michelangelo doesn’t, that sculpting is like lovemaking. This is tougher to do in the movies, which are a more exterior medium. Sure, there could be a voiceover, or the actor’s gestures might convey something – or, as in Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), we could be invited to stare at close-ups. Roger Ebert wrote, “You cannot know the history of silent film unless you know the face of [the heroine] Renee Maria Falconetti… to see [her] is to look into eyes that will never leave you.” Indeed. Regard the clip below. Joan’s face appears disembodied, and those eyes seem to be lit by an inner kind of crazy – and we understand. What marble was to Michelangelo, God was to Joan.

Continued at the link above.

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