Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful M
Misogynist or champion of women? This expansive portrait of a controversial fashion icon captures both light and shade.
Fashion photographer Helmut Newton specialised in erotically charged images of women: whether in saturated colour or severe monochrome, they often drew on fetish iconography. While captivating, his work has at times drawn criticism – Susan Sontag has called Newton a misogynist to his face – but, as documentarian Gero von Boehm reveals, it is strongly influenced by Newton’s turbulent background. He grew up Jewish in Nazi Germany and spent most of WWII in Australia, before marrying Melbourne-born actor and photographer June Browne and setting up a studio in Flinders Lane.
Fascinating behind-the-scenes footage from Newton’s shoots reveals him as surprisingly playful and affable – a mood von Boehm reinforces with his fun, needle-drop soundtrack. He also gives voice to Newton’s glamorous muses; Isabella Rossellini, Charlotte Rampling, Grace Jones and more offer incisive insights into Newton’s transgressive legacy. Condensing a prolific career into a slick hour-and-a-half, this humanising film pulls back the curtain on the photographer and his extensive body of work.
“There’s an ambivalence – a fantastic double vision – that runs through the work of Helmut Newton, and The Bad and the Beautiful dives into it with captivating zeal.” – Variety
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