Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful 2020

Directed by Gero von Boehm Portraits

One of the photography world’s most provocative artists, Helmut Newton’s story is told by the women who knew him best: those who lived with him, inspired him and disrobed for his lens.

Nov 05

City Gallery Wellington

Nov 06
Sold Out

Light House Cuba

Nov 08
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Light House Cuba

Nov 14
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Light House Petone

Nov 19
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Light House Cuba

Germany In English, French and German with English subtitles
93 minutes DCP
M
nudity

Director, Screenplay

With

Helmut Newton
,
June Newton

Producer

Felix von Boehm

Cinematography

Pierre Nativel
,
Marcus Winterbauer
,
Alexander Hein
,
Sven Jakob Engelmann
,
Uli Fischer
,
Pauline Pénichout

Editor

Tom Weichenhain

Sound

Markus Krohn

Festivals

Tribeca 2020

Elsewhere

Presented in association with

VIVA

Responsible for more than his share of controversy throughout the history of fashion photography, German shooter Helmut Newton and his legacy of boldly erotic imagery receives a venerated overview from those who worked and played with the artist. While many acclaimed fashion photographers now face a reckoning for their predatory behaviour, Newton is remembered fondly as a gentle genius with a childlike penchant for mischief.

Followers of fashion from the 60s onwards will be familiar with Newton’s often imitated style: strong female figures in stylised scenes of eroticism, elements of the fetishistic pushing against social mores. Celebrities including Claudia Schiffer, Grace Jones and Charlotte Rampling recount the stories behind their famous images, describing a convivial artist whose true personality seems to run counter to the controversial persona generated by his works.

The documentary recounts Newton’s early life in the decadent Weimar Republic before his Jewish family were forced to weather the rise of Nazism. In 1938 the family fled Germany, but not before the Aryan beauty standards and photography of Leni Riefenstahl left an indelible impression on the future artist.  Eventually arriving in Australia where he would meet his longtime wife June, Newton takes the trauma of his upbringing and processes it through the confronting, sexy style that would make him a star.

There is a lot to be unpacked in Newton’s practice and continuing influence on the photography industry, but that is not the film’s primary concern. Instead, audiences are treated to an array of affectionate remembrances from the impressive women who best represent the ideals that so infatuated this audacious artist. — Adrian Hatwell