WAYS TO
WATCH:

See all
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 »

Director:

Writers:

(story) (as Lech J. Majewski), (short story) (as John F. Bowe) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
3,612 ( 525)
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Director Tamra Davis pays homage to her friend in this definitive documentary but also delves into Basquiat as an iconoclast. His dense, bebop-influenced neoexpressionist work emerged while... See full summary »

Director: Tamra Davis
Stars: Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Larry Gagosian
The Hunger (1983)
Fantasy | Horror | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The Egyptian vampire lady Miriam subsists upon the blood of her lovers. In return the guys or girls don't age... until Miriam has enough of them. Unfortunately that's currently the case ... See full summary »

Director: Tony Scott
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In 1942 British soldier Jack Celliers comes to a Japanese prison camp. The camp is run by Yonoi, who has a firm belief in discipline, honor and glory. In his view, the allied prisoners are ... See full summary »

Director: Nagisa Ôshima
Stars: David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Two disgruntled restaurant employees (David Bowie, Rosanna Arquette) decide to rob their employers (Buck Henry, Andre Gregory).

Director: Richard Shepard
Stars: Rosanna Arquette, David Bowie, Eszter Balint
Pollock (2000)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A film about the life and career of the American painter, Jackson Pollock.

Director: Ed Harris
Stars: Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Robert Knott
Sci-Fi | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Thomas Jerome Newton is a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet. He starts a high technology company to get the billions of dollars he needs to build a return ... See full summary »

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: David Bowie, Rip Torn, Candy Clark
Just a Gigolo (1978)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

After World War I, a war hero returns to Berlin to find that there's no place for him--he has no skills other than what he learned in the army, and can only find menial, low-paying jobs. He decides to become a gigolo to lonely rich women.

Director: David Hemmings
Stars: David Bowie, Sydne Rome, Kim Novak
Il mio West (1998)
Comedy | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  

The idealistic lifestyle of an old West farmer, his Indian wife and half-breed son, who narrates the tale, is disrupted when his grandfather, an old gunslinger, shows up on the farm. ... See full summary »

Director: Giovanni Veronesi
Stars: Leonardo Pieraccioni, Harvey Keitel, David Bowie
B.U.S.T.E.D (1999)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Two toughs from the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester, choose different paths when they are released from prison. The quiet Ray wants out of the 'gangsta' life and into the local music... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Goth
Stars: Rachel Shelley, Clint Dyer, David Baker
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Episodic look at the life of Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), from his childhood in Oriente province to his death in New York City. He joins Castro's rebels. By 1964, ... See full summary »

Director: Julian Schnabel
Stars: Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Olatz López Garmendia
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The life of Jesus Christ, his journey through life as he faces the struggles all humans do, and his final temptation on the cross.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Barbara Hershey
Baal (TV Movie 1982)
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Baal is a young amoral rebellious poetic genius who, after a short and eventful life of debauchery, betrayal and violence, is about to cut his ties to the world and meet his doom. A high society party is where the end begins.

Director: Alan Clarke
Stars: David Bowie, Robert Austin, Jonathan Kent
Edit

Cast

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

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 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

|

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:

ITL 780,048,000 (Italy) (6 June 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Near the end of the movie, Albert Milo (Gary Oldman) shows Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright) one of his paintings and tells him that he painted it for a friend who died. "JMB AUG 12" appears in white letters in the upper right corner. Those are Jean Michel Basquiat's initials and the date of his death. See more »

Goofs

As Basquiat walks with Gina for the first time, a woman is seen behind them walking a dog on a retractable leash. Retractable leashes were not available in 1981. 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 ...
[...]
See more »

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

Features The Frogs Who Wanted a King (1922) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Not in Love
Performed by The Toadies
Written by David Byrne
Published by Index Music Bleu Disque Music
Administered by RZO Music Inc.
Courtesy of Interscope Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

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


24 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

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
Discuss Basquiat (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?