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Three Great Biopics No One Has Made Yet

April 15, 2010

The biopic is a tricky film genre.  Sometimes, they can be masterpieces that uncover a unique vision of a real-world personality’s life (The Aviator, Ray, Walk the Line).  Other times, one wonders what inspired a director’s choice of such a subject in the first place (Nixon, Beyond the Sea).

Here are three interesting historic personages who have yet to be honored with a biopic of their respective lives.  Let’s get these folks some attention, already!

Pablo Picasso

I refuse to count Merchant Ivory’s Surviving Picasso as a true biopic.  It is not Picasso’s story, but that of his longtime mistress Francoise Gilot.   The real man was a fascinating paradox of artistic genius and masochistic misogynist.

Picasso’s works forever influenced the course of modern art.  Laced with political commentary (“Guernica”) and odes to the madness of love and logic, his repertoire was only enhanced by his personal foibles and eccentricities.

Picasso has been a minor character in several films over the years, but has yet to merit his own biopic.  What a travesty of egregious proportions!  In a world where even Jackson Pollack has won Oscar gold, where is Master Picasso?!

So, why has no one made a film of this man’s remarkable and interesting life?  For shame.  If Howard Stern can have his own biopic, surely Picasso can squeeze in there somewhere.

Any suggestions for a potential director are more than welcome!

Catherine De Medici

The Italian woman who ruled France by proxy from 1559 to 1579 was both ruthless and indomitable.  From a merchant class background, she fought against the snobbish Valois court to produce a line of incompetent and weak sons who would threaten to destroy the very power she coveted.

A relative of the powerful Pope Clement VII, Catherine was wed to the mild-mannered Henri of Orleans,  a second son.  She would become Queen of all France when Henri’s older brother met an unfortunate end.   Her husband would, for the rest of his life, force Catherine and France to acknowledge his mistress, the beautiful Diane De Poitiers, as his one true love.  Her emblem (often entwined with his) still adorns many of the great castles of France.  Catherine (who was called “the serpent” by courtiers) would live in the shadow of this older, charismatic woman until Henri’s death in a tragic jousting accident, supposedly forseen by Nostradamus himself.

From that time forward, the “Dark Queen” was born.  Catherine’s notorious hatred of the Huguenot Protestants would lead to the fateful St. Bartholomew’s Massacre in 1572, where hundreds of Huguenots (who had come to court for the wedding of Catherine’s daughter, Margot, to the Protestant  Henry of Navarre) were brutally murdered in one of the most notorious bloodbaths of 16th century Europe.

Catherine was well-known for utilizing necromancers and prophets in her court circle (the most famous was Nostradamus), and she was far and away one of the most fascinating women of Renaissance Europe.

The ideal director for such a project?  How about Jane Campion or Sofia Coppola? 

John Wilkes Booth

Perhaps the most famous assassin in history, Booth’s life reads like a pulp fiction novel. 

 The son of a noted Shakespearian actor and his mistress, Booth would begin life in relative obscurity in Maryland.    Although intelligent and skilled at horsemanship and other academic pursuits, he wasn’t one to bend well to authority. 

Not surprisingly, he decided to go into the family business, becoming an actor more well-known for his womanizing than his dedication to various stage roles.   

Despite being a Yankee by birth and education, he showed interest and admiration for the South’s proposed secession, which would fatefully lead him on the path to notoriety for all the wrong reasons.

His delusional (and failed) attempts to arrange a kidnapping of President Abraham Lincoln were just a stepping stone in his career as a successful assassin.

His plan to kill Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in 1865 was hastily planned, but masterfully executed.  He hoped Lincoln’s death would bring about the end of the Union cause.  He was sadly deluded, and after briefly eluding capture, he  would meet his death on April 26th, 1865.

Booth’s life would make an interesting straightforward biopic (directed by James Mangold or Curtis Hanson?), or perhaps even a historical re-imagining along the lines of Inglourious Basterds.  Quentin Tarantino, are you listening?

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