Mapping the British biopic: Evolution, conventions, reception and masculinities
This thesis offers a revaluation of the British biopic, which has often been subsumed into the broader ‘historical film’ category, identifying a critical neglect despite its successful presence throughout the history of the British film industry. It argues that the biopic is a necessary category because producers, reviewers and cinemagoers have significant investments in biographical subjects, and because biopics construct a ‘public history’ for a broad audience. This thesis provides a timeline of British biopics released from 1900 to 2014, constructing an historical overview of the continuities and shifts the genre has undergone. It also constructs an assessment of the representation of masculinity in the biopic, including detailed textual readings of representations of masculinity in biopics released between 2005 and 2014. This rectifies the critical neglect of masculinity in the biopic, despite the majority of biopics being about men.
Following a critique of existing critical approaches to the biopic, including the viability of applying American paradigms to the biopic as a whole, subsequent chapters analyse the major aspects of the British biopic: a history of the production and reception of biopics and a survey of the biopic’s conventions. An inter-chapter introduces the nature of representations of masculinity in the British biopic using specific paradigmatic examples and the final two chapters focus on a detailed analysis of the representation of masculinity in particular films from the contemporary period which are mapped onto contemporaneous understandings of masculinity. One chapter considers the diversity of homosocial representations and those depicting ‘wounded’ men; the other discusses the ways in which selected films depict wounded men rehabilitated through supportive homosocial bonds.
The thesis makes a contribution to knowledge in three ways: 1) an understanding and analysis of the biopic, a genre that has attracted few studies; 2) an historical overview of the British biopic which has not yet been attempted; 3) a detailed analysis of the representation of masculinity in the British biopic which, the thesis argues, is a distinctive and largely neglected aspect. The thesis argues that the British biopic has specifically national characteristics and that these patterns offer evidence of a profound difference between British and American paradigms.
Robinson, M. Mapping the British biopic: Evolution, conventions, reception and masculinities. (Thesis). University of the West of England
|Keywords||biopic, film, masculinity, British film|