Victoria University

Constructing a Biopic Screenplay: Fictional Invention in the Biopic with Scant Evidence

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dc.contributor.advisor Hardy, Ann
dc.contributor.advisor Groves, Tim
dc.contributor.advisor Giacomo, Lichtner Chakravarty, Indranil 2020-07-30T23:21:22Z 2020-07-30T23:21:22Z 2020 2020
dc.description.abstract As a creative practice research project, this thesis sets out to write a screenplay about Suresh Biswas (1861-1905), a little-known Bengali adventurer who was a wild-life trainer and circus-performer in Europe and later became a Captain in the Brazilian army. The early biographies of Biswas, based on limited and unreliable evidence, pose a challenge to the screenwriter in terms of narrative reconstruction of his life as a biopic. While more information has become available recently, this project examines the creative and critical issues associated with researching this figure, overcoming the problem of scant evidence and positioning him within a presentist context. Drawing on Rosenstone’s conceptual model for understanding how historical knowledge manifests in fictional narratives, it investigates the nature and function of fictional inventions in biopics and the ways in which screenplays make creative use of evidence. In writing Biswas’ biopic, I use the microhistorical research method, knowledge about biopic script-drafting processes, and Bhabha’s notion of ‘vernacular cosmopolitanism’ to present Biswas as a non-Western, non-elite 19th century cosmopolitan, thereby constructing a counter-narrative to the dominant discourse of cosmopolitanism as a matter of exclusive Western, elite privilege. I argue that it is through a judicious mix of fictional invention and a diligent study of evidence that a screenwriter can get closer to the historical subject. The thesis thus initiates in practice, moves to biopic history and criticism, reverts to practice with knowledge about research and writing that not only enables me to overcome my screenwriting problem but also leaves behind a set of insights for other screenwriters working with scant biographical evidence. en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Biopic screenwriting en_NZ
dc.subject Screenplay en_NZ
dc.subject Narrative en_NZ
dc.subject Evidence en_NZ
dc.subject Storytelling en_NZ
dc.subject Scant en_NZ
dc.subject Biographical film en_NZ
dc.subject Suresh Biswas en_NZ
dc.subject India en_NZ
dc.subject Postcolonialism en_NZ
dc.subject 19th century en_NZ
dc.subject Postcolonial en_NZ
dc.title Constructing a Biopic Screenplay: Fictional Invention in the Biopic with Scant Evidence en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ Film en_NZ Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ Doctoral en_NZ Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 190201 Cinema Studies en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 190204 Film and Television en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 199999 Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrctoa 2 Strategic Basic Research en_NZ

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