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Themed Feature - 13 April 2017

Big Macs and iMacs

The great biopics showing on board are neither fact nor fiction, but rather modern allegories that explain our world.

In 1954, a salesman for milkshake blenders was impressed after walking into a restaurant east of Los Angeles. There were neither plates nor cutlery nor long waiting times. Its owners were brothers Dick and Mac McDonald. The salesman bought out the brothers for a bargain price, and built an empire. Today, there are more than 36,000 McDonald’s outlets worldwide. With his intelligent film The Founder about fast-food pioneer Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), director John Lee Hancock depicts how a resourceful businessman changed our eating habits.

Three years before, Hancock had another American myth on his mind: Walt Disney. At the heart of dramedy Saving Mr. Banks lies the ‘duel’ between the billionaire film producer and British author P.L. Travers. In 1960, the cartoon tycoon wanted to buy the film rights to Mary Poppins from Miss Travers, but she was reluctant. With a comic charm, the film shows how she struggled for a faithful adaptation, while Disney tended towards the mawkish. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks portray the two characters amazingly and allow a look at the pre-production of a classic, which went to win five Oscars in 1965.

Also looking back on the sixties is Jackie about the world’s most famous widow (OK, next to Yoko Ono). Jacqueline Kennedy enchanted people with her style. This biopic, with Natalie Portman perfect in the lead role, focuses on Jackie’s life after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It shows the many sides of the private First Lady and how she turned her husband into a myth.

During JFK’s term, US astronaut John Glenn orbited the earth three times. That this feat was due to three African-American women was hardly known to the public until recently. Hidden Figures tells the story of three math whizzes who worked for NASA in Virginia but were forced to use their own coffee pots and toilets.

While people were looking up into space, a man from the vicinity of Bordeaux wanted to plunge into the sea. Ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau became a French icon through his documentary films for which he received three Oscars. Whether in the vast expanse of the Antarctic or with sharks in the Bahamas, biopic L’odyssée shows how the passionate diver opened up a whole new world to his audience, but struggled with his private life.

‘Passionate’ is a word that applies to Steve Jobs as well. Guru, control freak, visionary, genius, power player, father, the charismatic businessman with an estimated fortune of $10 billion was a complicated man. By concentrating on his life in the 1980s and ’90s, director Danny Boyle succeeds in creating an impressive character study of the cofounder of Apple Computer, Inc. Without Steve Jobs our world would not be the same.

WATCH
The Founder, Saving Mr. Banks, Jackie, Hidden Figures, L‘odyssée, Steve Jobs