Worldwide, the average life expectancy at birth was 71.0 years (68.5 years for males and 73.5 years for females) and condensing that into a 2-2 and a half hour film isn’t easy.
Of course most biopic stars have the good manners to live fast and die young and then there are those that just keep on going to a ripe old age. Which means that a hell of a lot of life is going to have to be cut or changed in order to fit a cinematic narrative. Which also means that the supporting cast tend to become one note-cliche characters who have a habit of receiving complaints from people who dislike the fact that they have been turned into cliche one-note characters.
Also, how do you cut someones 71 (ish) years on Earth into a 2 hour film? You also have to know that complete fans who will complain if one nose-hair is out of place will go to see the film, as well as people with a general (if slightly vague knowledge) of the character being portrayed and the people who just wanted to see something. And not turn the film into a complete mess.
And then you have casting the lead character, and here I have the slightly controversial opinion that they should hire the best person available and then let acting and a competent make up department do their jobs. Unfortunately, this then leads to complaints of the type that we have seen recently regarding the casting of Joeseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson and Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone. In both cases the actor has been criticized over their skin color and (in Saldanas case) about the fact that she appears to have been ‘blacked up’ for the role.
Now, I have no opinion on either film (and won’t until I have seen and am preparing my review for said films) and I will fall back to my earlier point. You should get the best actor for the job and then trust your Make-up department to do the job you pay it to do. I understand the potential for controversy but I feel that until we see the film, we should trust that the film makers (who want to sell a lot of tickets and make lots of money hopefully by making a good product) know what they are doing.
I have nothing but sympathy for the people who are tasked with writing the scripts for biographies and enjoy seeing them (I am eternally grateful to Ray for introducing me to the music of Ray Charles) but all too often, they are cluttered unfocused messes where entire years can pass in seconds and you are clearly meant to know who someone is and where they have come from before you sit down, which can easily lead to a frustrating and unrewarding viewing experience.
What do you guys think?