6.9/10
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Basquiat (1996)

Trailer
1:32 | Trailer
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 »

Videos

Photos

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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:

$3,011,195

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,011,195
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

The estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat refused to allow his works to be used, so the director, Julian Schnabel, personally painted the reproductions which are used throughout the film. See more »

Goofs

The closing credits states that Basquiat died on October 12, 1988. The real date is August 12, 1988. 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 WatchMojo: Top 10 David Bowie Movie Performances (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen)
Performed by Tom Waits
Written by Tom Waits
Published by Fifth Floor Music
Courtesy of Elektra Entertainment Group
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Terrible direction
1 January 2003 | by jesbeardSee all my reviews

This is one of the worst movies I have ever sat thru, start to finish. While the acting is not a problem, the direction and editing are terrible. I will concede that I have little use for Basquiat as an artist, but I also have no use for Jackson Pollack as an artist and the recent movie on his life was very good. The problem was not the subject, it was the presentation.

This film on Basquiat's life not only fails to leave you caring about Basquiat, but with about 20 minutes to go in the movie it honestly had me wishing someone would spring out from nowhere and murder Basquiat in some act of random violence which would at least end the film.

Jump-cuts being used for no apparent effect, b-rolling of audio tracks of conversations that would have been happening only minutes prior to the time of the visual image on the screen, when NOTHING is happening in the visual image that advances the story. This technique works great as a means of compressing time, showing a visual image to tell one part of a story, while simultaneously presenting audio from another time and place and allowing the viewer to absorb both in half the time. But here it was used for NO purpose.

In a later scene, in one of Basquiat's non-fatal heroin overdoses, we are shown what his girlfriend sees when she finds him with his heart temporarily stopped and we are to realize as she did that it was a drug overdose. Well, this is fine when you are watching on DVD and can go back to take a second look at the shot, but when the "tight shot" of the syringe is simply not tight at all and when the thing is shown amid clutter and for only a second and a half, (I timed it) the director and editor fail to allow us the opportunity to see what they are trying to show us.

The movie has recurrent visual images of surfers and watersports that might have some great significance to Basquiat's life, but which the director fails to even begin to convey. They might as well be random images on the screen.

The movie, in a nutshell, stinks, and to see reviews here praising it make me wonder what planet the authors are from.

This was the first directorial effort of Julian Schnabel, and it is amazing anyone else trusted him with their money or careers to direct another on in 2000. That 2000 film, Before Night Falls, was his only other directing effort.


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