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Basquiat (1996)

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The brief life of Jean Michel Basquiat, a world renowned New York street artist struggling with fame, drugs and his identity.

Director:

Julian Schnabel

Writers:

Lech Majewski (story) (as Lech J. Majewski), John Bowe (short story) (as John F. Bowe) | 2 more credits »
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeffrey Wright ... Jean Michel Basquiat
Michael Wincott ... Rene Ricard
Benicio Del Toro ... Benny Dalmau
Claire Forlani ... Gina Cardinale
David Bowie ... Andy Warhol
Dennis Hopper ... Bruno Bischofberger
Gary Oldman ... Albert Milo
Christopher Walken ... The Interviewer
Willem Dafoe ... The Electrician
Jean-Claude La Marre Jean-Claude La Marre ... Shenge (as Jean Claude LaMarre)
Parker Posey ... Mary Boone
Elina Löwensohn ... Annina Nosei
Paul Bartel ... Henry Geldzahler
Courtney Love ... Big Pink
Tatum O'Neal ... Cynthia Kruger
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Storyline

Basquiat tells the story of the meteoric rise of youthful artist Jean Michel Basquiat. Starting out as a street artist, living in Thompkins Square Park in a cardboard box, Basquiat becomes a star and a part of Andy Warhol's art world circle. But success has a price, and Basquiat pays with friendships, love, and eventually, his life. Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In 1981, A Nineteen-Year-Old Unknown Graffiti Writer Took The New York Art World By Storm. The Rest Is Art History.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug use and strong language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

9 August 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Build a Fort, Set It on Fire See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$83,863, 11 August 1996

Gross USA:

$2,961,991
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actors Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken and Gary Oldman all appeared in True Romance (1993) before. See more »

Goofs

When Basquiat barely walks on the street after screaming at the asylum guard, when his younger self is running towards him, the child should disappear behind Basquiat, but you can clearly see his hand behind the main character for a few moments. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Rene: Everybody wants to get on the Van Gogh boat. There's no trip so horrible that someone won't take it. The idea of the unrecognised genius slaving away in a garret is a deliciously foolish one. We must credit the life of Vincent Van Gogh for really sending this myth into orbit. I mean, how many pictures did he sell, one? He couldn't give them away. He has to be the most modern artist, but everybody hated him. He was so ashamed of his life that the rest of our history will be ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the very end of the credits, a short clip showing a surfer riding on a wave is displayed. It's very similar to the surfing/wave shots that Basquiat keeps seeing whenever he looks up to the sky during the movie, but it's in full color instead of being blue-tinted. See more »

Connections

Featured in Dennis Hopper: Uneasy Rider (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Not in Love
Performed by The Toadies
Written by David Byrne
Published by Index Music Bleu Disque Music
Administered by RZO Music Inc.
Courtesy of Interscope Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Err... Can we mention the unmentionable, please?
4 June 2018 | by hobbittallSee all my reviews

While the evocation of the 1980s, obvious passion for the artist's work and magnificent acting from the ensemble cast should have made this movie a '10', it has one fatal flaw: this film, Basquiat, dealing with a young man's struggle for identity, fails to mention or even hint at the fact that he had both female and male sexual partners. While I highly respect the acting ability of Jeffrey Wright (just check out his performance in Westworld), he was not only misdirected but simply miscast. To understand the real Basquiat, see the 2010 documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat - The Radiant Child. There, you see a cute, good-looking, charismatic, ambitious although introverted young man whom you could easily imagine receiving offers from men and women alike - and equally imagine the offers being taken up. The portrayal in the film, Basquiat, is of a slightly autistic, inarticulate, heterosexual boor with a 'junkie walk' before he was even a junkie. It is well documented that the artist David Bowes was a male lover of Basquiat's, and other characters from the era, some still alive today, attest that while living on the street he would often exchange sexual favors with both males and females for a place to sleep for the night; not uncommon practice for the homeless. I mention all this not to disrespect the memory of Jean-Michel as I'm actually a great fan of his. Let's instead respect him by honoring him truthfully and mentioning the unmentionable: male-to-male sexuality.

Directors and scriptwriters be damned; you spoil otherwise good movies. Just when will film-makers get over their homophobic paranoia? Why make a movie about Howard Hughs and not mention he had bedded most Hollywood leading men of his day? Why make a movie about Alexander the Great misrepresenting his life-long male lover and companion, and not mentioning his Persian male lover? Why make a film about Archilles and pretend that his male lover, whose death caused his downfall, was his platonic cousin? Why make a movie about Cole Porter and not mention anything? The list goes on.


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