4 May 2014

The 10 Best Memoir Movies

Adapted from Eric Lomax’s autobiography of the same name, The Railway Man tells his story from his capture by the Japanese during World War II, his forced labour on the Thai-Burma Railway right through to his search for justice as a grown man. To celebrate the film’s release on DVD and Blu-ray  out today  5th May 2014 courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment, we count down the most effective memoir-based films to have hit screens.

Angela’s Ashes (1999)

Based on the memoirs of Irish author Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes was co-written and directed by Alan Parker (Bugsy Malone), and starred Emily Watson and Robert Carlyle as McCourt’s parents. Recounting his childhood, the film tracks McCourt as he moves from America to Ireland due to financial difficulties, and his constant attempts to earn enough money to one day move back to the States.

A Mighty Heart (2007)

Mariane Pearl’s memoir A Mighty Heart recounted the real-life search for Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl, kidnapped in Karachi by supporters of British terrorist Omar Sheikh. Daniel’s wife Mariane is played by Angelina Jolie in director Michael Winterbottom’s depiction of events which end in the most tragic way imaginable.

The Pianist (2002)

Roman Polanski’s adaptation of pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman’s memoirs was met with universal acclaim when released in 2002, the true life account of the man (here played by the Oscar-winning Adrien Brody) trying to survive the destruction of a Warsaw ghetto in WWII capturing hearts of nation’s worldwide. Szpilman died in Warsaw at the age of 88, two films before the film was released.

My Week with Marilyn (2011)

Michelle Williams stars as the late Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe in Simon Curtis’ film, which is based on two books by Colin Clark which describes his experiences working on the production of the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl, starring both Monroe and Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). The film focuses on the week Monroe spent in London escorted by Clark - here played by the wide-eyed Eddie Redmayne.

An Education (2009)

British film An Education was directed by Lone Scherfig (One Day) and its script from author Nick Hornby was based on a memoir by British journalist Lynn Barber. The memoir was originally written about a teenage love affair she had, with the film starring Carey Mulligan as a 16-year-old girl who becomes involved with Peter Sarsgaard’s Jewish businessman, David Goldman.

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

This Spanish biopic based upon the written memoir of 23-year-old Ernesto Guevara recounts his 1952 expedition across South America alongside his friend Alberto Granado by motorcycle. Interestingly several years later, Ernesto would become known internationally as revolutionary Che Guevara, and The Motorcycle Diaries finds himself transformed by his observations on impoverished life they encounter on their trek.

127 Hours (2010)

Aron Ralston’s much talked about memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place tells the story of how the adventurer became trapped by a boulder in Utah in April 2003, spawning Danny Boyle’s Oscar-nominated film 127 Hours, in which James Franco plays Ralston. With his arm stuck behind a boulder for the majority of the running time, Boyle’s film does well in encapsulating Ralston’s marvellous desire to live.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

This French biographical film is based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoirs of the same name, telling his incredible story: after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 43, Bauby was left with locked-in syndrome, a condition which paralysed him from the neck down, and led to his right eye being sewn up. With one eye left working, the only way Bauby could communicate was by blinking. Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls) was the one to bring this incredible to the big screen for all to discover.

Persepolis (2007)

This French-American animated film is based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel, directed by the lady herself alongside Vincent Paronnaud. Following a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution, the film tells the factual story of Satrapi, with the title referring to the historic New Persian city of Persepolis

The Railway Man is released on DVD and Blu-ray today, 5th May 2014, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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