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Title: My impossible task? : writing an ethical biopic of Samuel Johnson
Author: Leigh, Joanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 8009
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2009
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This practice-based PhD comprises an original screenplay for a biopic of eighteenth-century lexicographer and writer Samuel Johnson, entitled Sam J, and a thesis which reflects upon the process of writing that film. The research question asks whether it is possible to write a biopic which operates within the conventions of classic Hollywood screenwriting (following the paradigm of the three act structure to create a film that is both emotionally engaging and entertaining to a mass audience) and yet is also an 'ethical biopic', that is, one that gives a truthful portrayal of the subject and his life. The thesis proposes a framework which may be of help to the writers of ethical biopics, and puts that framework to the test through the process of writing the film. Chapter 1, 'Truth', identifies different types of truth in the biopic, which often conflict with each other, and concludes that the best way to incorporate them into a single vision is by means of the 'interpretative approach'. The writer's own interpretation of Samuel Johnson is then explained. Chapter 2 'Structure', explores the ethical issues which arose during the process of adapting the story of Johnson's life into a three-act screenplay. Chapter 3 'Character', explores the ethical issues which arose during the process of turning historical people into characters in the film. The ethical framework is modified in the light of the research process, and a revised framework is presented in the conclusion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Film studies ; Film & Video