Like Franz Kafka, Gilbert Colon is a civil servant by day, writer by night, and full-time crime-solver in his own imagination. He has contributed to a range of periodicals including Filmfax, Cinema Retro, The New York Review of Science Fiction, as well as the book Invasion of the Body Snatchers: A Tribute (Stark House Press). A guest post of his will soon appear on the author blog Bradley on Film.
“… I want my story back. It’s not much, but it’s what I do.”—Dashiell Hammett in Hammett.
A recent New York Magazine issue showcases John McTeigue’s The Raven (2012) with a sidebar list of supposedly similar biopics that includes Finding Neverland, Capote, Midnight in Paris, Shadowlands, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Miss Potter, Quills, Permanent Midnight, The Hours, and Ed Wood. But those films are wholly unlike The Raven in that they are traditional biopics, treating their subjects in a purely straightforward manner. John Cusack describes The Raven as “a mash-up”—“a straight biopic would be boring,” he claims—but that is insufficiently specific. The Raven is the latest in a long line of unconventional biographical films in which the artist somehow literally encounters his or her art. In other words, these biopics employ a metafictional literary device in which the character, usually a writer, steps into or inhabits his own created world. There are enough of these “biographical fantasies,” for lack of a better word, to deserve consideration as a subgenre of the biopic, no matter what we call them (fantasy biopic, biographical fantasia, biopic metafiction, etc.).