There has been a flurry of followup news in wake of the announcement that hip/hop star Andre 3000 is soon starting work on the Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side.
First comes the update that All Is By My Side has added two leading ladies to its cast: Captain America star Hayley Atwell and Fright Night star Imogen Poots. No word yet on who the lovely ladies are playing in the film, but we expect that information soon.
Far more interesting, however, is the back and forth between the filmmakers and Experience Hendrix LLC, the family company that owns the rights and publishing to the late musician’s music. Scroll down to read how the situation is unfolding.
Here is a statement that Experience Hendrix LLC released, which basically states their position regarding this biopic. SPOILER ALERT: they aren’t supportive of it:
[Experience Hendrix LLC] has made it known many times in the past that no such film, were it to include original music or copyrights created by Jimi Hendrix, can be undertaken without its full participation.
Experience Hendrix CEO Janie Hendrix, sister of Jimi Hendrix, and the EH board have not ruled out a ‘biopic’ in the future though producing partners would, out of necessity, have to involve the company from the inception of any such film project if it is to include original Jimi Hendrix music or compositions.
So the question therefore looms: how do director John Ridley (Three Kings) and Darko Entertainment plan to do a Jimi Hendrix biopic without Jimi Hendrix music? As initial reports indicated: by not focusing on Hendrix’s years of fame, and instead looking at his early life leading up to that stardom. As Deadline reports:
The Darko film will get around the music by centering on his origins and young life: it will detail Hendrix growing up in Seattle, joining the Army, playing in back-up bands throughout the South and with the Isley Brothers and Little Richard among others.
Having recently seen the excellent Bob Marley documentary Marley (read my review), I can tell you: there is something truly moving about hearing the familiar work of a great musician within the context of their life and times; doing so provides new understanding of both the musician and the songs you thought you knew. I say all that to say: having that element (the music) missing from All Is By My Side would be impossible to overlook.
Of course, biopics can be done in memoir fashion – focusing on a specific time or event in a famous person’s life (see: My Week With Marilyn, The King’s Speech), rather than a broad, sweeping look at their entire life (J. Edgar, Malcolm X). In fact, in my experience the former makes for a much better film than the latter – primarily due to the tighter narrative and thematic arcs that come from the more concentrated focus.
Taking all that into consideration, All Is By My Side isn’t quite a dead duck if Experience Hendrix LLC refuses to lend their support – it will just have to be smart about how it circumvents the issue. A 2000 Showtime TV Movie about the musician found a loophole by using covers of famous Hendrix tracks; I’m sure Hollywood has no shortage of musicians who would be willing to lend a similar hand.
We’ll keep you updated on All Is By My Side as the news keeps coming.