Watch | 30. Jul 2020

The Bad And The Beautiful - Have A Brand-New Look At Famous Photographer Helmut Newton

We happened to spend his last New Years eve with him of all people, Helmut Newton, one of our all-time-heroes.

Just because we were guests in his hotel, the "Chateau Marmont" in West Hollywood; when he found out that we were speaking German he asked us to join him at his table for a drink, what we gratefully accepted, ending up singing German folk songs together well into the wee hours of that January, 1st, 2004.. Newton sang the loudest, his wife June rising her perfect eyebrows more than once. His unique attitude, his youthful looks made me ask him for his receipt of never getting old. He answered, quite seriously, "Never stop working for money."

I still think that he had made a good point. Only if we stick to what is important to us seriously we will stay alive in the present.

The marvellous new documentary by Gero von Boehm reminded me of this certain life lesson.

In "The Bad And The Beautiful", the title wisely chosen after that legendary movie with Lana Turner and Kirk Douglas, you only listen to Helmut Newton´s speaking, sometimes his wife - and mainly a bunch of the most beautiful among those women he took pictures of and became acquainted to. Every single one of them has a story to tell and with every quote you seem to come a little closer into this universe of imagination and male perspective.

Like Isabella Rossellini: Although she was captured by him in a haunting shot with her then-partner David Lynch (the one where he’s holding her head as if she were a puppet), she describes the effect of his pictures perfectly when she says that they’re really touching the depths of a certain male fear. The photographs, she says, are saying: “I like you, damn you! I shouldn’t like you, because you’re a weapon!”

Then there is the still very beautiful Nadja Auermann, a former German Supermodel (and in a way the incarnation of Newton´s vision of women), who explains the way the photographer played with our watching habits, unmasking all of us as "peeping toms".

Charlotte Rampling and Grace Jones who celebrate his humour and his tasteful way of treating them and their naked bodies.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder´s star Hanna Schygulla, who talks about his Berlin roots, growing up as a young Jew in Germany´s darkest hour, afraid to get arrested and killed any minute, but also impressed by the image language those Nazis used.

Then there is Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who proudly presents a personal fax of Helmut Newton to her and then there is also a clip of that famous TV show, when writer Susan Sonntag confronted Newton with what she regarded completely macho pictures - lovely to listen to both of them crossing their blades in perfect French.

This film, postponed for corona, but now showing all over the world in movie theatres and also via streaming devices and available on Amazon prime, is one of those very lucky, almost fatal coincidences, when an admirer became a friend AND has the craft to create something brilliant.

When you look at the picture, Helmut Newton took of Gero von Boehm, you realise: And vice versa.