RR Films*: Historical Figures

Regarded as both a hero and a villain, Fidel Castro has now moved into the realms of history, where filmmakers can interpret his actions in whatever light suits their politics. The two-part film about Che covered much of Fidel’s revolutionary history well, but in a rather respectful manner, so let’s see what they do with Fidel.

There are many, many films about historical figures, of variable quality and veracity. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance as Lincoln, seemed well real……

What films about historical figures would you recommend?

*Shoey’s ad hoc comment on RR last week stung. He’s right: I go to see films, not movies.

21 thoughts on “RR Films*: Historical Figures

  1. Ha! Most films about historical figures are utter bilge. Trying to think of worthwhile ones is a lot harder than thinking about the bad ones. (I am going, as an aside here, to nominate Braveheart as one of the worst examples of a rubbish-strewn genre).

    I think, though, that I will nominate Patton, with George C. Scott in the starring role as my choice. It is streets ahead of most historical biopics.

  2. I’m rather bummed that i already used my Queen Margot pick for another topic. I’m with Carole here, i think most films about historical characters suck – the more contemporary the character, the worse they get. So i’ll have to think of something else, the further back in time, the better. I would say I, Claudius, but that’s not a film.

  3. Two performances spring to mind 1) Paul Schofield as Sir Thomas More in A Man for all Seasons which is as good an acting performance as I’ve seen, and 2) George C Scott as General Patton in Patton where he captures the bull headed master strategist brilliantly

  4. I’m going with a little known film based on American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst – forget it’s name – let me do a quick search: Citizen Kane, that’s the one; it’s okay as flicks go.

  5. Always look forward to this! I don’t know enough to contribute (I’m blanking on this one too – sorry!) but always get some great recommendations – thanks!

    Haven’t seen Lincoln – so that’s a must-watch for the week!

    This week I watched:
    Synecdoche New York (last week’s Chris pick – totally twisted my melon and I’m not sure I quite understood it, but I’m glad I watched it)
    Son of Saul (just incredible, a tough watch but the way that all the day-to-day horrors of the holocaust were happening just out of focus behind the main character was such a powerful way to present it and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it before – thanks for the recommendation!)
    Hail, Caesar! (a lot of fun)

    • I’m glad Synecdoche New York scrambled your brain, panth; I think that’s what it is supposed to do (see anything else involving Charlie Kaufman).
      Lincoln is not a great film but it does have a great central performance from DD-L.

  6. Another couple occurred to me this morning, both by Derek Jarman. As ever with his work, we aren’t looking at historical accuracy, but neither are we watching Hollywood blockbusters.

    My two choices from him are Caravaggio and Sebastiane, the latter being an explicitly homoerotic film about the life and martyrdom of St Sebastian, with all the dialogue in Latin.

  7. I thought Oliver Assayas’ Carlos was very good. Excellent “period” presentation, relatively accurate, while also attempting to demystify the subject.

    George Clooney’s Good night and Good luck was a fine, straight film about McCarthy opponent Edward Murrow.

    Visconti’s brilliant The Leopard counts, technically based on a novel but it was a biographical tale of the Prince of Salina, di Lampedusa’s great grandfather.

    And the theme reminds me I still haven’t seen Baader-Meinhof complex, which seemed promising at the time of release and was certainly provocative.

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