Any film based on the biography of a person is nowadays called a BIOPIC. At this year’s Filmfest Hamburg I saw three biopics. They all played to packed houses which led me to the assumption that biopics are “in”. Obviously I am not alone with my curiosity to find out what made the “rich and famous” so rich and famous.
All three films looked at the material on hand from a totally different angle which is probably logical as the protagonists could not have differed more. One was an extrovert French Jew, one was a Chinese peasant and one a poor boy from Liverpool, England.
I started off with Gainsbourg – the man who loved women (der Mann, der die Frauen liebte). A jolly film which interested me mainly for Gainsbourg’s music - and maybe I was hoping to see some glamorous women. I was not disappointed. I saw a delightful film that I liked for its playfully light and entertaining tone, written with a twinkle in the eye.)
The life of the teenager John Lennon (Nowhere Boy) was filmed more conventionally but had its wild and dramatic scenes. As Lennon had not yet started his own musical career, he was fascinated by Elvis Presley’s rock ‘n roll. The film concentrated mainly on the relationship with his very strict and very English aunt and also with his life-loving vivacious but emotionally unstable mother. The teenage Lennon came across as a rebellious but loveable young lad.
Li Cunxin would have been unknown to me had he not written the book of his life story as Mao’s Last Dancer. He was chosen – or forced – to be trained as a dancer in communist China. His story gives an idea of his family’s peasant life and the opportunities he saw when defecting to the United States. Apart from this astounding story, this Australian film delights with its dancing sequences by superstar Chi Cao of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. This is a real crowd-pleaser, or should I call it a ballet-fan pleaser?