Basquiat tells the story of the meteoric rise of youthful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Starting out as a street artist, living in Thompkins Square Park in a cardboard box, Jean-Michel is "... See full summary »

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Writers:

(story) (as Lech J. Majewski), (short story) (as John F. Bowe) | 2 more credits »
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3,929 ( 1,276)

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2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jean-Claude La Marre ...
Shenge (as Jean Claude LaMarre)
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Annina Nosei
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Cynthia Kruger
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Storyline

Basquiat tells the story of the meteoric rise of youthful artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Starting out as a street artist, living in Thompkins Square Park in a cardboard box, Jean-Michel is "discovered" by Andy Warhol's art world and becomes a star. But success has a high price, and Basquiat pays with friendship, love, and eventually, his life. Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In 1981, A Nineteen-Year-Old Unknown Graffiti Writer Took The New York Art World By Storm. The Rest Is Art History.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug use and strong language | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

9 August 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Build a Fort, Set It on Fire  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$83,863 (USA) (9 August 1996)

Gross:

$2,961,991 (USA) (22 November 1996)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the film, David Bowie is adorned in the actual wigs worn by the real Andy Warhol. See more »

Goofs

When Basquiat is painting the Amoco sign, the white stripe runs completely through the black horse. But when Andy Warhol approaches the sign, the white stripe does not continue through the horse. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Rene: Everybody wants to get on the Van Gogh boat. There's no trip so horrible that someone won't take it. The idea of the unrecognised genius slaving away in a garret is a deliciously foolish one. We must credit the life of Vincent Van Gogh for really sending this myth into orbit. I mean, how many pictures did he sell, one? He couldn't give them away. He has to be the most modern artist, but everybody hated him. He was so ashamed of his life that the rest of our history will be ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

At the very end of the credits, a short clip showing a surfer riding on a wave is displayed. It's very similar to the surfing/wave shots that Basquiat keeps seeing whenever he looks up to the sky during the movie, but it's in full color instead of being blue-tinted. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Entourage: Busey and the Beach (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

April in Paris
Performed by Charlie Parker
Written by Vernon Duke and E.Y. Harburg
Published by Glocca Morra Music c/o The Songwriter's Guild of America/Kay Duke Music
Administered by BMG Songs/Warner Bros. Inc. World outside of U.S.A.
Courtesy of Verve Records
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User Reviews

 
Inscrutable, yet interesting study....
4 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

of Jean Michel Basquiat and the art world of the 80's. Granted, the film is a bit abstruse, and some viewers have complained about the music tracks (actually Basquiat's own music from his band); but it does serve to show the disaffected life of an artist, who seemed to gain fame, money, and fair-weather friends, despite himself.

Jeffrey Wright is very understated, but believable as Basquiat. Apparently he and his father were estranged, until he became famous. Then everyone wanted something from him. Not just another story of fame and its vices, however; because the film does NOT show his life as glamorous, indeed once he has "made it" we still see him dining at Lutece, people critiquing, being unaccepting of him as a person. Perhaps in real life this was one of the sources of his insecurities, and reason for his drug addiction. Certainly, if one believes even half of what is written about the NY art world- it cannot have been a forgiving place.

That aside, the film also has some interesting cameos, David Bowie as Warhol is excellent, Dennis Hopper as the Zurich art dealer, Bruno Bischofsburger is very believable. An amusing cameo with Christopher Walken as a James Lipton character; a pretentious interviewer. The only annoying performance was Parker Posey, as gallery owner Mary Boone, who perhaps portrayed this person too close to the mark.

Keeping in mind that Basquiat was under age 30 when he died, this story is credible. An artist who rose too fast, was used and discarded- apparently in real life Basquiat had a tendency to be generous, and gave away many of his paintings. There is one scene where he is beaten up so two street people can take steal a "SAMO" inscription on a piece of metal.

The visuals are also noteworthy, while an earlier review critiqued the surfboarding sequence, I find that a preferable segue to Basquiat's need to escape; apparently he owned a good deal of property in Hawai'i and spent time there as well.

The scenes with Claire Forlani are also effective, Basquiat's some-time girlfriend, we see her as a waitress, then a junkie, then a cleaned-up version, going to Columbia. The NY street sequences are realistic, It is not glamorous (though the accompanying jazz music is). It shows the schizophrenic nature of NY; Lutece, a homeless person sleeping outside, a man selling stuffed animals on the street, and Bruno Bischofsberger(Hopper) who mistakes Basquiat for a homeless person, trying to clean the windows on his Mercedes. Very realistic.

I highly recommend this film; it does not glamorize the story, and while it may not be completely accurate, it rings true, and portrays a life many artists may wish for, until they get it. 9/10


27 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
why did Basquiat pay for the guys laughing at him? dinokashani
He's an *beep* and not a very good artist. kriderthewriter
Incredible cast. EsWarEinmal
The misinterpretation.. Onetokeover
piano music help maxusII
HELP Basquiat song needed.. LaunchpadMcQuack
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