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[[folder: "Biopic" is one word. If you were redirected to here and it says "Bio Pic," please change it on the original page you linked from. Thank you. ]]


->''"This simple formula rarely fails. Pick a deceased (or soon to be deceased) musician, artist or mathematician, make sure they're the sort of person the New York media could conceivably refer to as brilliant, insert a big name actor ([[MyFriendsAndZoidberg or Gary Busey]]) to play the role; watch movie critics and audiences far and wide go apeshit."''
-->--'''Adam Brown''' of {{Website/Cracked}}.com, on the subject of OscarBait.

BasedOnATrueStory, but longer. The [=Biopic=] is... well a [[ShapedLikeItself picture (or motion picture, rather) that tells a person's biography.]] It takes a real person's life and tries to create drama from the things that the person experienced, to a varying degree of success.

The difference between a [=Biopic=] and Based On a True Story is that the [=Biopic=] takes place under a much longer time-span, years as opposed to, say, a summer (''FindingNeverland''). The famous person must also be the story's protagonist.

Due to the unending way we tend to live our life, the [=Biopic=] tends to, much like the 19th century novel, end with either the protagonist's Death, him getting married/ Finding God / Growing Up (after which he gets boring), his Downfall (after which he gets boring unless there's a Comeback) or his Greatest Triumph (which may be or follow the Comeback, but after which there is not much more to say).

Lately there have been a lot of biopics about famous musicians, mainly due to the fact that the (unavoidable?) drug/alcohol-abuse is a simple way to create drama and that all the recording sessions/concerts are an easy foil to let the soundtrack shine. Another popular sub-genre, based-on-truth movies about athletes, can count as these, and are a good source of ManlyTears.

This genre's been around for decades, and it's changed and adapted with time. While some films might heavily whitewash their subjects and their times if the intent is to show them in a positive light, it's now more common to explore the many facets, good and bad, of a protagonist's personality. This change is probably most noticeable when the subject is a historical figure - a politician and/or a military leader, for example. With performers it's particularly popular to chronicle those whose offscreen/stage behavior sharply contrasted to their work; e.g., comedians who couldn't find laughter in real life. Other films tell of those who didn't necessarily live ''great'' lives, but wonderfully unique ones - it's not a coincidence that the same screenwriting duo wrote ''Film/EdWood'', ''Film/ThePeopleVsLarryFlynt'' and ''Film/ManOnTheMoon''.

This genre is ''extremely'' subjective with both its makers and its viewers and largely depends on the point of view both parties bring to the table. If the filmmaker is more interested in the sad times, a viewer who loves the subject and knows what's left out might find the film too negative and their hero turned into a JerkAss. A filmmaker who wants to focus on the good times can upset a viewer who feels the protagonist is being unduly glorified.

A rich source of OscarBait. Essentially the movie form of the {{Biography}}. Compare RomanAClef. Expect many to exhibit {{Mononymous Biopic Title}}s.

When one of this is made from the perspective of someone other than the subject, it's called a SidelongGlanceBiopic.
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!!Examples are shown with their endings:
[[index]]
* ''Film/TwentyFourHourPartyPeople'' (Tony Wilson /[[spoiler: Downfall]])
* ''Film/EightMile'' (Music/{{Eminem}} (via expy) /[[spoiler:His first Success]])
* ''Film/FortyTwo'' (Jackie Robinson/[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Film/{{Alexander}}'' (Creator/AlexanderTheGreat /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/{{Ali}}'' (UsefulNotes/MuhammadAli /[[spoiler:Comeback]])
* ''Film/AlmostFamous'' (Cameron Crowe (via expy) /[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Film/AmazingGrace'' (William Wilberforce / [[spoiler:Greatest Triumph]])
* ''Film/AmericanGangster'' (Frank Lucas /[[spoiler: Downfall]])
* ''Film/TheAssassinationOfJesseJamesByTheCowardRobertFord''. (UsefulNotes/JesseJames and Robert Ford /[[spoiler: Death]])
* ''Film/TheAviator'' (Howard Hughes /[[spoiler:Greatest Triumph ''and'' Downfall]])
* ''Beginners'' (Mike Mills/[[spoiler:Growing Up/Father's Death]])
* ''Film/{{Bernie}}'' (Bernie Tiede/[[spoiler:Downfall]])
* ''Film/BeyondTheSea'' (Music/BobbyDarin/[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Film/TheBlindSide'' (Michael Oher / [[spoiler:Growing Up/Success]])
* ''Film/{{Blow}}'' (George Jung /[[spoiler: Downfall]])
* ''Film/{{Braveheart}}'' (William Wallace /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Caligula'' ([[UsefulNotes/{{Caligula}} Caligula]] /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/{{Cantinflas}}'' (Mario Moreno "Cantinflas" /[[spoiler:Greatest Success]])
* ''Film/{{Capote}}'' (Creator/TrumanCapote / [[spoiler:Greatest Triumph]])
* ''Film/CatchMeIfYouCan'' (conman Frank Abagnale Jr./[[spoiler: Downfall]])
* ''Cesar Chavez'' ([[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Cesar Chavez]] / [[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Chaplin'' (Creator/CharlieChaplin / [[spoiler: Comeback]])
* ''Che'' (UsefulNotes/CheGuevara / [[spoiler: Part 1: Success / Part 2: Death]])
** Also Film/TheMotorcycleDiaries / [[spoiler: Early Life]]
* ''Coal Miner's Daughter'' (Loretta Lynn /[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Coco Before Chanel'' (UsefulNotes/CocoChanel /[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Control''. (Ian Curtis of Music/JoyDivision/[[spoiler: Death]]
* ''The Dale Earnhardt Story'' (Dale Earnhardt Sr) [[spoiler:Death]])
* ''De-Lovely'' (Music/ColePorter /[[spoiler: Death]])
** ''Night and Day'' was made much earlier and is a lot more fictionalized.
* ''The Doors'' (Jim Morrison of Music/TheDoors /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/{{Downfall}}'' (UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/DragonTheBruceLeeStory'' (Creator/BruceLee /[[spoiler:Success, Death described in closing epilogue]])
* ''Film/EdWood'' (Creator/EdWood /[[spoiler:"Success"]])
* ''Film/{{Elizabeth}}'' (Queen Elizabeth /[[spoiler: AwesomeMomentOfCrowning]])
** ''Elizabeth: The Golden Age'' (ditto/[[spoiler: um... awesome moment of crown retention? or maybe death?]])
* ''Film/{{Frida}}'': (Creator/FridaKahlo /[[spoiler: Death]])
* ''Film/{{Gandhi}}'' (UsefulNotes/MahatmaGandhi/[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/GetOnUp'' (Music/JamesBrown/[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Film/TheGlennMillerStory'' (Music/GlennMiller/[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/GorillasInTheMist'' (Dian Fossey /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''The Great Caruso'' (Music/EnricoCaruso /[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''The Great Mr. Handel'' (Music/GeorgFriedrichHandel /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''The Great Ziegfeld'' (Florenz Ziegfeld /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Hitchcock'' (Creator/AlfredHitchcock / [[spoiler:Greatest Triumph]])
* ''Film/ImNotThere'' (Music/BobDylan /[[spoiler: Growing Up ''or'' Downfall]])
* ''Film/InTheRealmOfTheSenses'' (Sada Abe /[[spoiler: Claim to fame]])
* ''Film/IntoTheStorm'' (UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill / [[spoiler:Downfall]])
* ''Film/TheIronLady'' (UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher /[[spoiler:Dementia]])
* ''Film/JEdgar'' (UsefulNotes/JEdgarHoover / [[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Theatre/JerseyBoys'' (Music/FrankieValliAndTheFourSeasons / [[spoiler:Comeback]])
* ''Jinnah'' (Muhammad Ali Jinnah[[note]]The founder of Pakistan[[/note]] / [[spoiler:Greatest Triumph (Death in the opening minutes of the film)]]
* ''Juarez'' (Benito Juarez /[[spoiler: success]])
* ''Film/TheKingsSpeech'' (King George VI / [[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Film/{{Kinsey}}'' (Alfred Kinsey /[[spoiler: One of the first people to do real scientific research on human sexuality.]])
* ''Film/LaRevolucionEsUnSuenoEterno'' (Juan Josť Castelli)
* ''La Bamba'' (Ritchie Valens /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''The Lady'' (Aung San Suu Kyi/[[spoiler:Rise to power/romance with husband]])
* ''TheLastEmperor'' (Pu Yi /[[spoiler:Downfall]])
* ''The Life of Emile Zola'' (Emile Zola [[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/TheLifeAndDeathOfPeterSellers'' (ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin, [[spoiler:although the Death is not depicted on screen.]])
* ''Film/LizAndDick'' (Creator/ElizabethTaylor and Creator/RichardBurton)
* ''Film/MagicBeyondWordsTheJKRowlingStory'' (Creator/JKRowling /[[spoiler:Greatest Triumph]])
* ''Magic Fire'' (Music/RichardWagner /[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Film/MalcolmX'' (UsefulNotes/MalcolmX / [[spoiler:Death and martyrdom]])
* ''Man in the Mirror: The Music/MichaelJackson Story'' ([[spoiler: Greatest Success/Downfall]])
* ''Film/ManOnTheMoon'' (Creator/AndyKaufman /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/MarieAntoinette'' (UsefulNotes/MarieAntoinette /[[spoiler:Downfall]])
* ''Film/MenOfHonor'' (Carl Brashear /[[spoiler: His military career]])
* ''The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc'' (UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/{{Mesrine}}'' (Two Part Story depicting Mesrine's [[spoiler: rise to infamy as French Public Enemy No 1 and death]])
* ''Film/{{Milk}}'' (Harvey Milk /[[spoiler: Death]])
* ''Theatre/TheMiracleWorker'': (Helen Keller / [[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Molokai: The Father Damien Story'': ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_Damien Father Damien]] /[[spoiler:Death]]
* ''Film/{{Mongol}}'' (UsefulNotes/GenghisKhan /[[spoiler:Rise to power]])
* ''Film/MusicOfTheHeart'' (music educator Roberta Guaspari/Harlem Violin Program)
* ''The Mystery of Natalie Wood'' (Creator/NatalieWood [[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/{{Nixon}}'' (President UsefulNotes/RichardNixon /[[spoiler:Downfall]])
* ''Nowhere Boy'' (Music/JohnLennon /[[spoiler: Early life]])
* ''Film/ThePassionOfTheChrist'' (UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}}Christ /[[spoiler: Comeback]])
* ''Film/{{Patton}}'' (General George S. Patton /[[spoiler: Success]])
* ''Film/ThePeopleVsLarryFlynt'' (''Hustler'' publisher Larry Flynt [[spoiler:Comeback]]
* ''Film/PopeJohnPaulII'' (Pope John Paul II / [[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/ThePursuitOfHappyness'' (Christopher Gardner /[[spoiler: Success]])
* ''Film/{{Radio}}'' (James Robert "Radio" Kennedy)
* ''Film/RagingBull'' (Jake La Motta/[[spoiler:Downfall]])
* ''Film/{{Ray}}'' (Music/RayCharles /[[spoiler:Growing Up]])
* ''Film/TheRedBaron'' (UsefulNotes/TheRedBaron / [[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Series/{{Rome}}'' (Creator/GaiusJuliusCaesar "Augustus" Octavianus /[[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Film/TheRunaways'' (Joan Jett and Cherie Currie / [[spoiler:Success, downfall for Cherie]])
* ''Film/SavingMrBanks'' (P.L. Travers and Creator/WaltDisney / [[spoiler:Early life for Travers, whose book ''Mary Poppins'' Walt turns into one of his greatest triumphs]])
* ''Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll'' (Ian Dury of Music/IanDuryAndTheBlockheads)
* ''Film/{{Shine}}'' (Australian Pianist David Helfgott [[spoiler:Success]])
* ''Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist'' (Bob Flanagan /[[spoiler: Life and death (obviously)]])
* ''Sid And Nancy'' (Sid Vicious of the Music/SexPistols /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/{{Spartacus}}'' (Spartacus /[[spoiler: Death]])
* ''The Story of Louis Pasteur'' (Louis Pasteur /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Sweet Dreams'' (Music/PatsyCline /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Sylvia''. (Creator/SylviaPlath /[[spoiler: Death]])
* ''Film/TempleGrandin'' (Temple Grandin / [[spoiler:Triumph/Success -- LA Times review: "It's rare that triumph includes the word 'slaughterhouse'."]])
* ''Film/LaVieEnRose'' (Music/EdithPiaf /[[spoiler:Death]])
* ''Film/{{W}}.'' (President UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush /[[spoiler: Triumph/Downfall of the Iraq invasion.]])
* ''Film/WalkHard: The Dewey Cox Story'' (A parody of musician {{Bio Pic}}s /''[[spoiler: Pretty much all of them.]]'')
* ''Film/WalkTheLine'' (Music/JohnnyCash /[[spoiler:Growing Up]])
* ''Film/WhatWeDoIsSecret'' (Music/TheGerms, and their frontman Darby Crash / [[spoiler:Cult Following/Downfall/Death.]])
* ''Film/{{Wilson}}'' (UsefulNotes/WoodrowWilson / [[spoiler: Greatest Triumph and then Downfall]])
* ''Film/{{Wittgenstein}}'' (Creator/LudwigWittgenstein)
[[/index]]
!!Tropes that are frequently used in this genre include:

* AbilityOverAppearance vs. DyeingForYourArt
* AbusiveParents: A staple of the genre, if they had a {{Jerkass}} parent it will probably get a mention.
* AllStarCast
* AluminumChristmasTrees: Occasionally biopics will leave in the more extraordinary details of someone's life.
* ArtisticLicense: Big time.
* AsHimself
* CompositeCharacter: Multiple real people might be collapsed to one in particular if they essentially serve the same purpose in the subject's life (this happens frequently with {{love interest}}s). Creator/AndyKaufman's late-in-life girlfriend Lynne Margulies is an example in ''Film/ManOnTheMoon'' (where she's played by Courtney Love); she both represents the real Lynne and other women in his life, and enters the story much earlier than in reality.
* DarkAndTroubledPast
* DownerEnding: A tragic early death, usually by murder or substance abuse.
* FakeNationality: More often than not, an actor playing a character is not of the same nationality as that character. For example, it is not uncommon for an American character to be played by [[FakeAmerican a non-American actor]].
* {{Flashback}}, often a TroubledBackstoryFlashback.
* ForegoneConclusion: Particularly for famous people who are dead, as the audience already knows this beforehand.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Certain scenes will use a metaphor or a HarsherInHindsight/HilariousInHindsight line or scene in which the celebrity is shown in the very distant past, anticipating some of the more famous stuff he'll do later in life.
* HistoricalBeautyUpdate: Men and women will often be made more beautiful or attractive than they actually were in RealLife. And always according to modern beauty standards.
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade/ HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Likely to happen when conflict with another person/group is key to the story.
* HollywoodAtlas
* HollywoodHistory
* HollywoodOld
* {{Montages}}: With the sheer amount of time covered, transitions from one period to the next are often handled this way.
* TheMusicalMusical: Usually in biopics about musicians and composers, and especially ones about people who have performed in stage musicals.
* NothingButHits: Common to the genre as a whole, but most pronounced in films about musicians. The musician's {{Signature Song}}s are likely to be used.
* OscarBait
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: A side effect of the HistoricalHeroUpgrade in particular, but pops up in nearly all of them to varying degrees.
* PostModernism: Because story structure in this genre is so predictable, some more recent films invoke this to freshen things up. Commonly, the filmmakers try to frame the story in the style of the performer's work. For example, ''The Life and Death of Creator/PeterSellers'' has a film-within-a-film structure: Peter (Geoffrey Rush) is making the film and "actually" playing everyone in it. ''Film/ManOnTheMoon'' admits its use of ArtisticLicense in the opening sequence and builds a CreditsGag from it.
** Film-in-a-film/character as himself is also used in ''Beyond The Sea'', to justify Kevin Spacey's tiny bit of DawsonCasting - the subject, singer Bobby Darin died at a relatively early age.
* RealPersonCameo
* ShownTheirWork, although sometimes quite often TheyJustDidntCare, sadly.
* TalentDouble: Frequently averted as noted on the trope page, although a NonSingingVoice[=/=]NotQuiteStarring is often heard.
* TearJerker
* TheyChangedItNowItSucks: Viewers more knowledgeable than others about the subject matter are often aggravated by any changes made to the story, particularly reordering events and/or dropping them. Since different people have different ideas about ''what'' is important, this is extremely subjective. Also, it doesn't just apply to viewers -- the subject and/or their friends/family might have issues with what is and isn't included.
* TimeshiftedActor: Very frequently with the character as a child or teenager.
* TimeSkip: Another common way to handle the passage of time.
* TitledAfterTheSong: Common in biopics about musicians and songwriters. Usually, the name of their SignatureSong is used.
* ViewersAreGeniuses: Some biopics are made for audiences who already know a lot about the person and will alienate the general public who hasn't got enough knowledge beforehand.
* ViewersAreMorons: Things are often simplified in order not to confuse, disturb or make audiences think too much. Often they are downright romanticized.
* WellDoneSonGuy
* WhatTheHellHero: In the more unflinching biopics.
* WhenItAllBegan: RuleOfDrama frequently means that real people's motivations will be distilled down to one significant event in their life.

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