Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
The mid-2000s saw a surge in the popularity of musical biopics: films such as Ray (2004) which tell the story of a star musician. While academic studies have addressed biopics treating classical and jazz composers, the popular musical biopic (encompassing blues, folk, pop, country, rap, and rock) is not only the least studied subtype of the musical biopic, but the most profitable and frequently made. I analyze four different aspects of the musical biopic that illustrate its significance: Chapter One addresses the musical biopic in the context of the post-studio era entertainment industry. I study A Hard Day's Night as a film which reconciles artistry with the commercial imperative of cross-promotion. Chapter Two surveys the increased presence of minority entertainers in post-studio era musical biopics, covering films featuring African American musicians, as well as films which pair a black mentor with a white musician or producer. Chapter Three examines the relationship between storytelling, particularly the portrayal of love relationships, and song performances. I find in that the post-studio era musical biopic often reconciles narrative structures inherited from the classical Hollywood musical with post-classical film styles. Chapter Four, a psychoanalytic study of the contemporary musical biopic, theorizes the genre's turn to the representation of flawed and scandalous subjects.
Copyright 2010 Jesse Schlotterbeck
Schlotterbeck, Jesse Keith. "The popular musical biopic in the post-studio era: four approaches to an overlooked film genre." dissertation, University of Iowa, 2010.