The Beauty of a Music Biopic

I have been lucky enough to see Control (Ian Curtis) and Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll (Ian Dury) on opening night, or therebaouts, and these are the perfect example of how a music biopic can re-awaken a love for a forgotten musician, if they are produced in the right way.

The music biopic is a well-worn way of telling the story of a musician, band or artiste and engaging the audience within the confines of a darkened cinema. The mix of two or three different art forms can be a compelling meeting and produce glorious results.

Indeed 2007’s Control saw a resurgence of interest in Joy Division and, following on from the over-hyped but nevertheless entertaining 24 Hour Party People, the story of Tony Wilson and Factory Records, began to get people talking about the 76-85 period in music again. I wonder if the Ian Dury movie, will have the same effect.

Both of these films worked because they told the story of the artist, played a little on established stereotypes to appeal to a mainstream audience, but produced moving cinematic moments that were some of the best in this particular genre.

The Guardian reported yesterday that there are murmerings of a film looking at Creation Records, Alan McGee’s record label that gave us My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream and of course, Oasis.

I am uncomfortbale with this prospect for two reasons. I think that there is a tendency to think of 93-97 purely in an over-blown overly-stereotypical context (again, I refer to 24 Hour Party People) and that some of the characters, ie McGee and the Gallaghers, fall nicely into potential pardoy, rather than historical accuracy.

I also think that there is an element of potentially over-propagandising the film, so close to the event. The vast majority of thekey players are alive and kicking and will want to tell the story from their point of view. With the two films I’ve cited, the main protagonists, Ian Curtis and Ian Dury, are sadly no longer with us and a wider objective view can be applied by those who really knew them. Though this of course will not prevent story skewing.

Or maybe, I am reticent because that period of music played such an important part of my life, and still does, and I am scared of seeing the people involved reduced to a bunch of caricatures, rather than the people I’ve grown up with.


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