The Best Biographical Films About Real People

The Best Biographical Films About Real People
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The Professor and The Madman


Among the biopics of 2019, The Professor and the Madman undoubtedly stands out, directed by PB Sherman starring Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. The film is set in the 19th century and tells the true story of Professor James Murray. James Murray is given the task of collecting all the words of the English language in a single dictionary, with their etymology, meaning, and examples. To succeed in the enterprise, he tries to involve all the volunteers who want to participate, through letters and contacts. Unfortunately, however, the work proceeds slowly, until a former professor was hospitalized in an asylum. William Chester Minor – learns of the work that is taking place and sends letters with hundreds of words, with meaning and examples. This will save the company and will bind the two professors in a deep friendship.

James Murray and William Chester Minor were played by Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, respectively. The first was a Scottish lexicographer and philologist, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. He took this charge in 1879 and – although it was said that only ten years were needed for final publication. The result was obtained in 1928, with a dictionary consisting of twelve volumes. Thanks to his work, he was awarded many honorary degrees, including one in law. Minor, on the other hand, was an American doctor, whose conditions worsened in 1902 due to the delirium of having been kidnapped and forced to commit the molestation of children. He was admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile


Directed by Joe Berlinger, Ted Bundy – Allure criminal stars Zac Efron and Lily Collins. The two play Ted Bundy and Liz Kendall, two boys who begin a love story, unfortunately, turned upside down in 1975 when Ted is arrested on suspicion of having kidnapped and killed some women between Washington and Oregon. Although the man has never openly confessed to being the author of the murders. He is accused and tried, while he represents himself in the courtroom without the help of a lawyer. Released from the handcuffs according to the procedure, he manages to escape into the woods of Aspen. Where he will be recovered after six days. Meanwhile – despite being portrayed as a monster – many women are passionate about his story and support his cause.

Fascinating like a few others, Ted Bundy is played in the film by Zac Efron. Bundy was an American serial killer, and author of at least thirty murders of young women committed in the second half of the seventies. Despite his attractiveness, he attracted women by pretending to be disabled and struggling or by impersonating authority figures. Once he won their trust, he attacked and raped them and then killed them. Sometimes he even returned to the scene of the crime to commit acts of necrophilia. Lily Collins is Ted’s girlfriend Liz Kendall. As well represented in the film, the two met in a pub. It was she who handed over her partner to the authorities, denouncing what she had done.



We continue our selection of recent biopics to see with another film starring Lily Collins. We are talking about Tolkien, directed by Dome Karukoski and with Nicholas Hoult in the role of the great fantasy writer and creator of The Lord of the Rings. The biopic tells the writer’s formative years and the experiences that led him to become the writer we know and appreciate today. Studies, first love, and quarrels with colleagues are staged. Above all, his love for Edith Bratt is highlighted, considered not only the woman of his life but also his inspiring Muse. The one who helped him realize his dream, of putting the Middle-earth novel series on paper.

Although the film has been particularly appreciated by the public. Although, the Tolkien family has admitted that they did not approve, authorize or participate in the making. Despite this, Nicholas Hoult was very proud of having given life to a character as fascinating as it is difficult to stage. JRR Tolkien was a great scholar of the Old English language and is known for having published the greatest fantasy novels of all subjects, such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion. Tolkien was the creator of a new world, from which many other authors of the fantasy genre took inspiration.



Italy also reserves the right to stage biographical films. This is the case of Hammamet, a feature film directed by Gianni Amelio with Pierfrancesco Favino and Livia Rossi. The work focuses on the figure of Bettino Craxi, seen as a politician and as a man. While he is experiencing a particularly critical moment. The film is based on some real testimonies and is divided into three distinct chapters. The first, in which the period of the election as President of the Council of Ministers is told up to the Mani Pulite investigation. The second one sees his daughter Stefania protect the image of her father in the last chapter. We enter the political environment of Craxi. Who tries to demolish it from within?

Favino brings to the stage one of the most prominent Italian politicians of the Republic and one of the most influential of the 1980s. In our political history, he was the first socialist figure to have held the office of Prime Minister. He was – as also told in the film – involved in the Mani Pulite investigation, suffering two convictions for corruption and illegal financing of the PSI. He died while the trials against him were ongoing. Craxi has always rejected the accusation of corruption, without being believed. Pierfrancesco Favino literally becomes Bettino Craxi, working on facial expressions and voice and aided by a prostate makeup that makes him unrecognizable. In the film, it emerges clearly how Craxi was a controversial figure, for better or for worse and Amelio chooses not to take a clear-cut position.

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