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Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful

1h 33m Documentary 2020

Born into a wealthy Jewish family, Helmut Newton came of age in the seductive decadence of an ‘anything goes’ Berlin under the Weimar Republic. His teenaged apprenticeship under commercial photography pioneer, Yva, - who perished in the Holocaust - coincided with his family’s persecution under the rise of the Third Reich. He escaped with members of his family in 1938 and met his life partner, June, while in Australia working as a commercial photographer. The couple eventually settled in Paris where Helmut’s gradual evolution beyond the conservative confines of fashion photography in the 1960’s coincided with the radical political upheaval of 60’s France.

Interpreting the most traumatic political and cultural shift in German history, Helmut established his artistic legacy by effectively channeling his past into an erotically charged, highly-subversive portfolio dominated by bold ‘Aryan’-esque women in stilettos navigating the shadowy past of Helmut’s motherland. Replete with Helmut’s arresting imagery, The Bold and The Beautiful features creative accomplices Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini, Marianne Faithfull, Anna Wintour and widow June Newton as they reflect on Helmut’s life and legacy.

What the critics say….

“Perverse, erotic, debasing, and powerful, fashion photographer Helmut Newton’s photographs throughout the 20th century displayed a worship of women similar to a domineering male director and his female star. Gero von Boehm’s new documentary spends time talking to: (Isabella) Rossellini herself, Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Claudia Schiffer, Marianne Faithfull, Hanna Schygulla, Nadja Auermann, and Anna Wintour, among others. While the things many of them were asked to do as objects of the Newton gaze seem extreme by today’s standards — often involving sadomasochistic acts of sexual expression and explicit, if tasteful, nudity — these women all adored him. The candid interviews and remembrances make for…vivid dive into the career of the 20th century most’s iconoclastic fashion photographer, who died in a car crash in 2004” - Ryan Lattanzino, Indie Wire

It’s clear Newton was a considerate man and a superb collaborator…really entertaining film” - France 24

“A fascinating read on the career of an artist whose always-controversial work may look even more problematic to youngsters encountering it here for the first time, Gero von Boehm’s, Helmut Newton: The Bad and The Beautiful, both delights in its hero’s troublemaking side and urges viewers to look beyond his pictures’ surface sexual politics. Benefiting from ample interview footage shot before the fashion photographer’s 2004 death, the doc offers a warm and approachable take on Newton’s cold, aggressive aesthetic. It’s one of those rare docs that might change minds about its subject’s merits, or at least make minds willing to accommodate alternative points of view” - John Defore Hollywood Reporter


Gero von Boehm


English, French, German



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