William Klein | Movie Maker




The multifaceted artist William Klein is everything but a conformist. He is in fact its antithesis, making the most of each opportunity he has to question all conventions, be it in the world of photography or film. He craves the eccentric and out of the ordinary, he explores behind the scenes and brings to light the absurd, the forgotten and the rejected. He seeks not to please but rather to provoke; with wit and humor he reveals what others choose to ignore.

Just after World War II, Klein, the 18-year-old Jewish New Yorker was sent to Germany to do his military service. Two years later he went to Paris, where he met the love of his life and future collaborator, Jeanne Florin. He studied painting with Fernand Léger, but soon began his photographic career shooting fashion photos for Vogue (New York) magazine and then moving to street photography. His first book, New York (Life Is Good & Good for You in New York: Trance Witness Revels) changed the course of photography. His innovative choice of subject matter and use of wide-angle lenses, out-of-focus elements, and grainy film were criticized at the time but soon earned him international recognition.

In 1958, encouraged by his friends Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, Klein began his filmmaking adventure with the short Broadway by Light. With Times Square as the stage and the neon signs as ready-mades, Klein created an exquisite collage of words, lights, and abstract images that was considered to be the first Pop movie.

With the swinging sixties came Klein’s first feature film, the luscious Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966), a satire on the extravagance and superficiality of the media and the fashion world. With a truly unique style, Klein cunningly cuts from one genre to another, from fiction to false documentary, passing through animation, musical comedy, and even a bit of cinéma verité.

As Klein approached his forties, the war in Vietnam was at its peak and he became overtly political. In 1967 he joined with Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Claude Lelouch, Joris Ivens, and Chris Marker to make the film Loin du Vietnam, a direct attack on U.S. foreign policy.

Long before comic book characters became a trend in film, Klein created Mr. Freedom (1968), which features a superhero who incarnates the United States’ God-like attitude toward the world. This hilarious farce offers an unmerciful critique of the American government as well as other political doctrines such as Maoism and Stalinism. Initially banned in France, it presents a harmonious and yet disturbing explosion of color, violence, and humor.

(Continuing reading at Walker Art Blog)



What do you think?


If you just had took the time to actually watch "Mr. Freedom", you'd know that the title sequence video you posted is not part of the film. The description of the video on youtube is in portuguese and says that the video was made for a multimedia college class, in which the students had to create a title sequence based on a movie of their choice.