Eclectic Dialectics: William Klein's Documentary Method: William klein's documentary method

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This article examines the relations between documentary aesthetics and the political sensibility of William Klein. Structured around the cultural phenomena that have remained integral to his career as a photographer and filmmaker - fashion, sport, and music - it discusses his enduring attachment to notions of freedom and creativity still associated with 1960s counter-culture, and the Vietnam War. In particular, it examines how how his films disrupt conventional categories, and subvert the familiar rhetoric of mainstream documentary film, especially that associated with cinéma vérité. A erstwhile protege of Dada, Klein has always valued the expressive potential of improbable juxtapositions, of intercutting between times and places, and subverting mainstream journalistic modes and intentions. The article argues that this attitude is increasingly rare among contemporary documentary filmmakers, and yet it is the very thing that gives his work a distinctive aesthetic texture, and relevance to any history of cinema.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages11
JournalFilm Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • Documentary
  • Modernism
  • Photographer-filmmakers
  • Politics
  • William klein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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