Popular Music History, Vol 2, No 1 (2007)

Popular music history on screen: the pop/rock biopic

Ian Inglis
Issued Date: 26 Jun 2007


The current popularity of popular music biopics in British and American cinema (and TV) has re-awakened discussions over the accuracy and reliability of the stories they tell. Using illustrations and examples from past and present productions, the paper explores the relationship between music, film and history; the inevitability of interpretation, imagination and invention in the films’ portrayals of history; the inevitable tensions between historical accuracy and commercial considerations; the options open to film-makers in their reconstruction of musical performances; and the attractions of the genre for producers and consumers of film and popular music. Many of these issues are applicable to cinema’s treatment of historical themes and events in general, but the success of films like Ray, Walk the Line and Beyond the Sea, and the large number of projects in various stages of production and pre-production, have given the popular music biopic a very specific place in the current debate.

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DOI: 10.1558/pomh.v2i1.77


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