Exploring the Vogue for Biopics and Masculine Heroes
Starting out with obvious figures such as James Bond, Josie Rourke uses this program to explore the current vogue for biopics. She comes up with some predictable answers; in a culture of celebrity, viewers are interested in exploring the private lives of the rich and famous. Biopics help to meet that need, even though they consciously combine fact and fiction. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin goes so far as to say that perhaps the subject's "real" life is only incidental to the creation of a good biopic, reminding us, perhaps, of classics such as NIGHT AND DAY (1946), the film about Cole Porter which gave the famously homosexual subject a wife and children.
Rourke is on much more suggestive ground when she shifts her focus somewhat to the vogue for masculine heroes. Here she explores questions of gender construction, no more so than in Phyllida Lloyd's all- female productions of Shakespeare's history plays, which have already played successfully in London's West End and are about to transfer to Broadway. Through interviews with the case, including Dame Harriet Walter, we learn how the experience of playing heroes from history helps the cast understand something about themselves and their relationship to men, as well as the complexities of male sexuality.
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