Fellow cinephiles, if you’re still not done with your iconic biopic women marathon, we have one more list for you to check out this week!
In our previous installments, we’ve shared a handful of our favorite biographical films that place the spotlight on the life, work, and legacy of some of the most influential women the world has ever known. We even had a list for history fans, which features some biopics about the most prominent female monarchs in history. For this week’s movie marathon, here’s a list of films about some of the most fascinating women who graced the world of art, music, and literature:
Virginia Woolf’s 1935 novel Mrs Dalloway remains one of her best-known and celebrated works, so it may not come as a surprise for literature geeks that it inspired a couple of movies. Aside from a 1997 film version of the novel, there’s also the 2002 adaptation with a twist: The Hours, which was based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel — also inspired by Woolf’s work — of the same title by Michael Cunningham.
The Hours tells the story of three women from different times whose lives became intertwined with the novel Mrs Dalloway: Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep), a New Yorker organizing an award party in 2001 for her long-time friend and old flame, a poet ill with AIDS; Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), a Los Angeles housewife in the 1950s who picks up Mrs Dalloway to escape her conventional life and unhappy marriage; and Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) herself at the time she began writing Mrs Dalloway in 1923.
“Girl with a Pearl Earring” remains to be one of the best known and celebrated works of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, and continues to inspire many creative minds generations after it was made. One of them was American historical novelist Tracy Chevalier, who imagined the circumstances of the painting’s creation in her novel. Her book, in turn, was adapted into the 2003 drama film directed by Peter Webber. Scarlett Johansson stars as the shy girl Griet, who gets sent to work as a maid in the household of painter Johannes Vermeer (Colin Firth), his wife Catharina (Essie Davis), and his mother-in-law Maria Thins (Judy Parfitt). When Griet shows appreciation for painting, Vermeer asks her to be his assistant, tasking her to mix paints and prepare other materials in his studio. Vermeer gets commissioned by a wealthy patron to paint a portrait of Griet, but not without struggling to find a central piece that will draw eyes into the masterpiece.
The 2006 American biographical film Factory Girl gives us a glimpse of Edie Sedgwick’s Superstar life, relationship with Warhol, and purported affair with Bob Dylan. The film stars Sienna Miller as Sedgwick, Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol, and Hayden Christensen as poet and singer Billy Quinn (based on folk singer Bob Dylan). The film also touches base on Edie’s drug addiction troubles and eventual disconnection from Warhol and his circle of eccentric friends.
Considered by many as one of the finest biographical films ever made, the 2007 French biopic La Vie en Rose (“life through rose-colored glasses”) looks back at the extraordinary life of French singer Edith Piaf, regarded one of France’s greatest international stars. The film, which borrows its title from one of Piaf’s best known songs (her signature song, in fact), chronicles her life from her troubled childhood, street singing days, and humble beginnings as a successful singer on stage, as well as her affair with French boxer Marcel Cerdan.
In the world of pin-up modeling and erotic photography, the name Bettie Page never goes missing — something that doesn’t come as a surprise since Miss Page cemented her title as the “Queen of Pinups” way back in the 1950s. The American model’s trademark bangs, jet-black hair, and controversial modeling stint continue to influence generations of artists. The 2005 biographical film The Notorious Bettie Page is just one of biographies and films that seek to tell her story.
A series made for cinephiles, Reel vs. Real highlights some notable biographical films that you may or may not have watched, and puts the biopic actors side by side with their real life counterparts.