Coming to virtual theatrical today, Friday, July 24:
HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
Gero von Boehm
Tribeca 2020 (cancelled)
A portrait of the often controversial fashion photographer.
The work of German photographer Helmut Newton is synonymous with transgression, eroticism, and, for some, a disturbing misogyny. Working for Vogue and other influential fashion magazines beginning in the late 1950s, but truly emerging as an iconic image maker in the ’70s and ’80s, Newton focused on the female body, often nude, more than fashion. Influenced by the imagery of Leni Riefenstahl and his time as an apprentice to the underappreciated but pioneering Weimar era photographer Madame Yva, Newton eroticized and fetishized the body, both celebrating it and holding it at a distance, something to be desired, but also, perhaps, to be feared. Filmmaker Gero von Boehm followed the photographer prior to his accidental death in 2004, while also speaking to several of his muses – beyond his wife and business manager, June, models like Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini, Claudia Schiffer, Hanna Schygulla, and Marianne Faithfull. Their affectionate for Newton – a self-described “naughty boy” – and admiration for his professionalism seem to disavow the charges of objectification and the darker undercurrents of his work, but the film would have benefitted from delving deeper into the criticism. Still, von Boehm’s portrait conveys his subject’s charisma and serves as a fitting showcase for Newton’s striking imagery.