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The creators of the Amy Winehouse biopic “Back to Black” describe it as a celebration of her life and legacy

Director Sam Taylor-Johnson drew inspiration from Amy Winehouse’s lyrics and music, which she described as the “guiding star,” in bringing the late singer’s story to the screen in “Back to Black.” This biographical feature film traces Winehouse’s journey to stardom and delves into her relationships with her family and former husband Blake Fielder-Civil. Released nearly 13 years after Winehouse’s tragic death from alcohol poisoning at the age of 27, the film pays homage to her immense talent and lasting impact on the music industry.

For Taylor-Johnson, portraying Winehouse’s story from her own perspective was paramount. “I just wanted it to be in her perspective to kind of give her her agency back because I felt like it had been kind of taken away and she’d just become a victim of her tragedy,” she explained at the film’s world premiere in London. “I felt like doing it through her words, her music, kind of like brought the music back to life and celebrated her again, and that felt so important. It felt like she deserved that.”

British actress Marisa Abela takes on the challenging role of Winehouse, describing it as both daunting and a dream come true. “You don’t get parts like Amy every day. And that’s not because she’s Amy Winehouse but it’s because she was everything in one,” Abela reflected. “She was smart and funny and bold and brave, but also incredibly vulnerable and emotional, and that’s kind of what I wanted to bring. I wanted to… remind people of the vulnerability of Amy, the girl behind the music.”

To prepare for the role, Abela underwent daily singing lessons for four months and meticulously studied Winehouse’s lyrics. “Back to Black” received approval from the Amy Winehouse Estate, and Taylor-Johnson also met with Winehouse’s parents out of respect for their daughter. “I didn’t need anybody’s approval… But I wanted to meet with the family out of respect for the fact that I was making a film about their daughter, and it felt wrong not to meet with them. And the fact that they’ve approved this since seeing it is really good,” Taylor-Johnson emphasized.

Reflecting on Winehouse’s legacy, Taylor-Johnson expressed hope that the singer would feel proud that her music has endured the test of time. “I would hope that Amy would feel proud that her music has stood such a big test of time, and that we’re here to celebrate her again,” she remarked. “Back to Black” is set to begin its global cinematic release on April 11.

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