Reading the Biopic through Persona: A Comparison between Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman

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Abstract

Personas are the public expressions of a private identity, the performance of personality in the social world. They are particularly visible and familiar in the world of celebrity, where entertainers regularly adopt an alter-ego for performance. This has intriguing consequences for biographical representations of performers. Biopic actors are obliged to duplicate the public-facing persona, which is an already-known, semi-fictional construction, and the private individual beneath. The narrative of the biopic must account for this relationship between the persona and the person who authors it. This article explores this process in two high-profile rock biopics, Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and Rocketman (2019), comparing their different approaches to reproducing and exploring the persona of their subjects in performance, style and mise-en-scène.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)10 - 30
Number of pages20
JournalComparative Cinema
Volume9
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Cinema
  • Persona
  • Biography
  • Biopic
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Rocketman
  • Elton John
  • Freddie Mercury

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