After the failed Simone, five biopics to match the biopics

PIERRE MUR’S VIEW – Not all filmed biographies are doomed to hagiography and “Simone – Le voyage du siècle” style illustrations. Demonstration on five examples: from Ludwig II of Bavaria to the Korean artist Aries.

Illustrative biographies such as that of Simone Weil (Simona – Journey of the century, Olivier Dahan, in cinemas from October 12), a bunch of them. Hollywood made them fashionable from the beginning: for the bosses of the big studios, often uneducated, it was chic to finance The life of Louis Pasteur (William Dieterle, 1936), The life of Emile Zola (also Dieterle, 1937), or The life of Thomas Edison (Clarence Brown, 1940) …

And then the stars have always liked to impersonate historical characters: Greta Garbo and her rival Marlene Dietrich in The Sovereign (Queen Christinaartist Ruben Mamulyan, 1933, i red empress, Joseph von Sternberg, 1934), Marlon Brando as Napoleon (Desireeartist Henry Koster, 1954), Kirk Douglas as artist (Passionate life of Vincent Van Gogh, Vincente Minelli, 1956). More recently, we’ve seen Denzel Washington as Malcolm X (in Spike Lee, 1992), Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles (in Taylor Hackford, 2004), and even Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln (in Steven Spielberg’s 2012).

Since these biographies often turn into hagiography, even the most gifted (Spielberg!) fall into academicism: the main thing is not to spoil the image of celebrities. Without shocking either their descendants or fans, who are often more demanding than families… Fortunately, disregarding stereotypes and decency, it happens that individual biographical directors throw themselves into the frame. This then gives rise to often controversial works that time eventually pays its respects to.

Luchino Visconti and Ludwig II of Bavaria

Romy Schneider and Helmut Berger revealing the decrepit Ludwig II of Bavaria in Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig or Twilight of the Gods (1972).

Cinetel-Dieter Geissler Film Production

He could not carry out In search of lost time. Luchino Visconti feels old and obscure. No one seems to honor the beauty he’s been chasing all his life Senso to Cheetah. As if in order to finally make sure, he realizes Ludwig or the twilight of the gods1973: The story of a little king convinced that art will make his reign better. A poor man: thrown into the lion’s den, exalted, lonely, homosexual – different, tragically different from his contemporaries – Ludwig turns out to be abandoned by everyone. Including Wagner, to whom he gave so much. Even Elizabeth of Austria, “Sissy”, (Romy Schneider) who is he, “protects himself from others by running away from them”, betrays her beloved cousin, howling with laughter at her extravagant locks. The director films an extremely beautiful being (who he plays through his love Helmut Berger) who is physically and morally lost. A wonderful and terrible sight.

Claude Chabrol and Landreu

Charles Denner as the killer is not exciting at all, and Michelle Morgan in Claude Chabrol's Landreux (1963).

Charles Denner as the killer is not exciting at all, and Michelle Morgan in Claude Chabrol’s Landreux (1963).

Rome-Paris Films/Company Lux

After two successes (Handsome Serge, 1958 and cousins, 1959), Claude Chabrol is skating. Now the press is killing her and (almost) one Françoise Sagan, who at a critical time became Espresso, frankincense Good women (1960): “A stream of air that smells of freedom, cheerfulness, occasional gentle madness and, finally, sanity. » She writes wonderful dialogues for him Landru (1963). With her, Chabrol makes this serial killer, as we have not said yet, not an exciting fantasy (a cliché of all American TV series), but a small pragmatic entrepreneur obliged to feed his family. So we have, on the one hand, the war of 14-18: massacre. And, on the other hand, the master who carves old women, thirsty for love and sex, in a villa in Gambais (Michelle Morgan, Daniel Darier, Hildegard Knef, Mary Marche…). Which of the two mass murders is more horrific? Between the two murders, Henri Desiree Landreu (Charles Denner), gifted in business, distributes money to his wife and children, who suspect everything but remain silent…

Arnaud Depleschen and Philip Roth

Denis Podalides (Philippe Roth) and Léa Seydoux (English Mistress) in Arnaud Depleschen's Deception (2021).

Denis Podalides (Philippe Roth) and Léa Seydoux (English Mistress) in Arnaud Depleschen’s Deception (2021).

Shanna Besson/Why Not Productions

Philip Roth is an American. Honest Author: The title of his short novel demonstrates this well, Deception. Tell about the romance of the novelist who allowed him to become a director, with what he calls “the English mistress”, Arnaud Depleschen relies on the illusion of Jean Renoir: “We are a theaterhe said. We are only a set of roles that we imperfectly embody. » The mouth, played by one of his doubles, Bruno Podalides, French to the end of every intonation, becomes an enigma. Whose other characters (his wife, the smart one, his ex, the sick one…) provide the scattered pieces that we have to put together. It’s also the story of a character, an “English Mistress” (Léa Seydoux), who tries to escape her creator in order to somehow exist on her own. It is an unequal struggle, because she has only her life, and the novelist has his work. In any case, we rarely performed better than at Deception (2021), and with such sensuality, as if the novelist was really in his place when he wrote.

Anatol Litvak and Anastasia

Ingrid Bergman, the fake Anastasia in Anatoly Litvak's (1956), won the Oscar for Best Actress for this role.

Ingrid Bergman, the fake Anastasia in Anatoly Litvak’s (1956), won the Oscar for Best Actress for this role.

20th Century Fox

The biography is all the more fascinating because it is untrue. In 1928, in order to monopolize the fortune of Tsar Nicholas II, executed ten years earlier along with his family, some gangsters try to pass off a young woman as Grand Duchess Anastasia, who miraculously survived the massacre. General Bunin (Yul Brynner), as well as Professor Higgins my beautiful lady is responsible for infusing a stranger (Ingrid Bergman) with memories she doesn’t have. If only this life is not hers, she appropriates it. As a character invented by Luigi Pirandello in how do you want me, she slips into someone else’s dreams. She becomes Anastasia, because everyone wants her to be… The entire career of Anatoly Litvak (z Mayerlingfilmed in France in 1936, c Night of the generals, made in Hollywood in 1967) is to be rediscovered. SkillAnastasia (filmed in 1956, nothing to do with the terrible 1997 Disney cartoon) is to slowly make us complicit in a scam that the victims even enjoy…

I’m Kwon-taek and Owon

Yoo Ho Jeong and Choi Min Sik, artists of Drunk with Women and Painting (Im Kwon Taek, 2002).

Yoo Ho Jeong and Choi Min Sik, artists of Drunk with Women and Painting (Im Kwon Taek, 2002).

Pictures of Taehung

You may not need to know anything about modeling to write a good bio. Nothing or almost nothing is known about the Korean artist Owon Im Kwon Thaek: the date of his birth (1847), the approximate date of his disappearance (1897). Therefore, he dreams, he invents, he imagines. And from his search – because they are the only one – this fantastic film is born: a hymn to an artist who “One should never give the public what it expects “. And who must flee at all costs from the power that exists only to destroy or enslave him. So, Aries wanders, seeks himself, never finding himself, finds himself when he no longer seeks himself, always p he’s always alone… We wish all celebrity movies were like Drunk on women and paint (2002), illusions. allocation. Manifestos that promote trickery as the surest way to achieve – at best in a few seconds – the truth.

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