Picasso, star of the screen

The life and art of Picasso has gone beyond the screens of cinema and television to construct more or less fortunate stories of audiovisual fiction. Picasso is a key figure in 20th century culture, a reason for which both his character, as well as his works, have often appeared in cinema and on television.

If we begin with cinema, one of the most famous approaches to the figure of Picasso was the one done by the film-maker James Ivory with the film Surviving Picasso (1996), focusing on the years that the painter, interpreted by Anthony Hopkins, was with Françoise Gilot but in which other women of Picasso also appeared. In fact it is the hectic sentimental life of Picasso which is the main protagonist of this film, based on the book Picasso, creator and destroyer, by Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington, and in the memoires of Gilot himself, Life with Picasso. Neither the heirs of the painter, nor Gilot, gave their approval for this film, which is why the paintings which appear in it are imitations.

Sobrevivir Natasha McElhone i Anthony Hopkins, en una escena de ‘Sobrevivir a Picasso’ (Warner Brothers)

One of the most delusional proposals about the figure of Picasso is the Swedish comedy The adventures of Picasso (1978), by Tage Danielsson, which takes a look at the whole biography of the painter from a grotesque point of view and without taking into account the numerous anachronisms that appear in it. Fernando Colomo also recreated from a comic point of view in the La banda Picasso –“The Picasso Gang” (2012) the episode of the hypothetical involvement of the painter in the robbery of La Gioconda. Even though the character of Picasso doesn’t appear, in the film The biggest robbery never told (2002), directed by another Spanish director, Daniel Monzón, a group of delinquents plan to steal the Guernica .

In terms of television, it is worth mentioning two biographical series about Picasso. The first, The young Picasso, was produced in 1992 for the Spanish autonomous televisions, and directed with a lot of dignity by Juan Antonio Bardem. Starring the actor from Malaga Tony Zenet and made up of four episodes, it explains the first years of Picasso in Barcelona and Paris until the production of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. The Catalan friends from youth of the painter took part and it is mostly shot in real settings. The young Picasso of the Quatre Gats also appeared in one of the episodes of the series The Ministry of Time from 2015, in a face to face with Velázquez and it has just been announced that he will appear again in an episode of the new and fourth season, interpreted once again by Tony Zenet.

It must be quite a challenge for any actor to interpret the genius from Malaga, and it was undertaken in just this way by Antonio Banderas, from Malaga as Picasso himself was, while at the same time putting himself in the shoes of the painter in the series Genius: Picasso, produced by National Geographic in 2017, which in ten episodes takes a look at the long life of the artist.

ntonio Banderas, caracteritzat de Picasso per a la sèrie Genius: Picasso (National Geographic)Antonio Banderas, caracteritzat de Picasso per a la sèrie Genius: Picasso (National Geographic)


Picasso and his works have also occasionally appeared in a number of recent productions. For example, Rose, the protagonist of the blockbuster of James Cameron Titanic, who sails on the ship with several paintings of modern art, among them a small canvas of Les demoiselles d’Avignon. Evidently a concession to fiction because the picture obviously didn’t go down with the sinking of the Titanic and at that time Picasso still had it in his studio.

La protagonista de Titanic, interpretada per Kate Winslet, amb la seva particular 'Les senyoretes d'Avinyó' (Paramount Pictures)La protagonista de Titanic, interpretada per Kate Winslet, amb la seva particular ‘Les senyoretes d’Avinyó’ (Paramount Pictures)

The painter, along with other artists and writers residing in Paris in the 1920s, appears in some fragments of the delicious comedy Midnight in Paris (2011), by Woody Allen. In a scene, which takes place in the home of the writer and collector Gertrude Stein, you can see some of the painter’s works, among them the portrait that the artist did of her in 1906. More recently in the animated film Dilili in Paris (2018), by Michel Ocelot, the little protagonist of the film, who is investigating the abduction of young girls, coinciding during his search for some of the most notable artists and scientists in the Paris of the Belle Epoque, among them being the young Picasso, in a meeting at the Bateau Lavoir which include the presence also of Matisse, Brancusi, Henri Rousseau and Suzanne Valladon.



Trailers of some of the productions mentioned above

Las aventuras de Picasso




Sobrevivir a Picasso


Ministerio del Tiempo



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