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Four biopics and a funeral

Screen biographies, from Schindler's List to Gandhi, have swept the board at the Oscars. But, Christopher Tookey argues, four recent releases testify to the wretched state of the genre

Ever since movies began, screen biographies have aroused controversy and acclaim. The best, such as A Man for All Seasons and Schindler’s List, have achieved huge popularity. Even less distinguished examples, such as Braveheart, Gandhi and The Last Emperor, have followed suit.

This year has already seen the arrival in Britain of two big biopics, Oliver Stone’s Nixon and Mario Van Peebles’s Panther. November saw the release of two more: Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins and James Ivory’s Surviving Picasso. All four illustrate, in different ways, the wretched state of screen biography.

Anyone who attends Surviving Picasso in the hope of…

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