Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful
Directed by Gero von Boehm
Release Year: 2020
Running time: 89
Language: English, French, German
Genres: Documentary , Photography
Directed by: Gero von Boehm
One of the great masters of photography, Helmut Newton made a name for himself exploring the female form, and his cult status continues long after his tragic death in a Los Angeles car crash in 2004. Newton worked around the globe, from Singapore to Australia to Paris to Los Angeles, but Weimar Germany was the visual hallmark of his work. Newton's unique and striking way of depicting women has always posed the question: did he empower his subjects or treat them as sexual objects? Through candid interviews with Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini, Anna Wintour, Claudia Schiffer, Marianne Faithfull, Hanna Schygulla, Nadja Auermann, and Newton's wife June (a.k.a. photographer Alice Springs), this documentary captures his legacy and seeks to answer questions about the themes at the core of his life's work – creating provocative and subversive images of women. The film also features Newton’s own home movies, archival footage (including a pointed exchange with Susan Sontag) and, of course, scores of iconic Newton photographs. The result: a wildly entertaining portrait of a controversial genius.
"A gossipy portrait of a charmingly naughty boy whose genius is perhaps best appreciated on a second viewing with the sound off and the eyes wide open."
— Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
"An engaging and surprisingly playful documentary about the man who was arguably the most transgressive photographer to emerge from the 1960s and '70s."
— Owen Gleiberman, Variety
"Delights in its hero's troublemaking side and urges viewers to look beyond his pictures' surface sexual politics."
— John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter
"Unexpectedly moving... a nostalgic time capsule of an art-world rebel whose unorthodox methods and decidedly politically incorrect vision couldn’t exist today."
— Ryan Lattanzio, Indiewire
"Newton’s career can be seen as one endless, erotic-fantasy scrapbook he made and kept for himself. Von Boehm succeeds so well in bringing Newton to life"
— James Verniers, Boston Herald
"Enlightening and provocative."
— – Roxana Hadadi, RogerEbert.com