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'I Saw the Light' Reinforces the Power of Music Biographies on Screen

Tom Hiddleston portrays country singer Hank Williams in "I Saw the Light."

There have been plenty of influential musicians portrayed in biographies on the silver screen. Award-winning depictions from that of Mozart in Amadeus, Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter, and Ray Charles in Ray.

The makers of I Saw the Light hope it follows in those substantial footsteps. Tom Hiddleston sheds his natural English accent to portray country star Hank Williams and all the pain Williams endured in his life.

"I think that this movie is brilliant in terms of screenwriting for being able to touch on basically everything of importance that I'm aware of that happened to him in his life without getting bogged down too much," says film contributor Dave Luhrssen. Luhrssen is also arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express.

He says the film effectively portrays the personal problems, relationship problems and drug and alcohol abuse that plagued Williams particularly during his short six year music career. Luhrssen notes that Williams' career was the first of many similar paths future musicians would follow.

"Really what Hank Williams went through in the 1950s was a foretaste of the rock star world to come," he says.

With the release of I Saw the Light and other upcoming musician biopics, such as Miles Ahead about jazz musician Miles Davis, Luhrssen says that music and musicians will always be a strong subject in the film making world. "As a subject matter it's an unending source of fascination for fans of the various musicians and easy material in a certain sense for screenwriters and directors and studios," he says.

Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.
David Luhrssen is arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express, co-founder of the Milwaukee International Film Festival and co-author of A Time of Paradox: America Since 1890. He is the winner of the Pace Setter Award for contributions to Milwaukee's film community from the Milwaukee Independent Film Society. David Luhrssen has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Milwaukee Area Technical College.