Literary biopics

Adaptation as historiographic metafiction

Authored by: Elaine Indrusiak , Ana Iris Ramgrab

The Routledge Companion To Adaptation

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138915404
eBook ISBN: 9781315690254
Adobe ISBN:


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The definition of genre remains one of the most slippery concepts in film theory, a fact that should be celebrated as a clear sign of cinema’s maturing into a complex and highly diverse art form. Despite the ongoing debate on the whys and wherefores of film categorization, biographical films have been thoroughly examined and labeled an autonomous genre by a number of fairly recent studies (i.e. Anderson 1988; Custen 1992/2000; Bingham 2010; Brown and Vidal 2013; Minier and Pennacchia 2014). This effort has helped attenuate the “toxicity and pejorative odor” of the term biopic (Bingham 2010: 13), turning it into a pet name of sorts, an endearing initiative that almost compensates for decades of little scholarly and critical attention paid to this prolific yet somewhat downplayed film category or, as Dennis Bingham puts it, a “respectable genre of very low repute” (2010: 3). Needless to say, this renewed academic interest followed a surge in popularity of such films, said to have reached its peak in 2004, “[t]he Year of the Biopic” (Anderson and Lupo 2008: 50).

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