William Klein. Filmstrips from “Broadway by Light” #3, New York, 1958. Chromogenic Print, 60 x 50 cm.
Broadway by Light was William Klein’s first experiment with the medium of film, and it is entirely devoted to the countless neon signs in and around Times Square in Manhattan. It was Klein’s idea to take the Times Square commercials as ready-mades, in the way that Marcel Duchamp had earlier used everyday objects. The result is both dizzying and hallucinatory. In a pulsing rhythm, with unexpected perspectives, exploiting to the full the breathtaking magnificence of the colours, Klein creates a disorientating and abstract whole out of the neon lights ans logos of major companies. The jazzy soundtrack reinforces the overwhelming and unique experience that is Broadway by Light.
Filmmaker and publisher Chris Marker, who had already assisted Klein with the publication of Life is Good and Good for You in New York, was a close friend of French filmmaker Alain Resnais. Together they introduced Klein to producer Anatole Dauman, who decided to finance the postproduction, editing and soundtrack of Broadway by Light after seeing the rushes. Since much of Dauman’s work was financed by the French government, there was an obligation to employ French technicians in the making of the film. So Resnais appears in the credits as having provided “technical advice”, while Marker wrote the introduction.
Orson Wells called Broadway by Light “the first film I’ve seen in which colour was absolutely necessary”.
International photography magazine, #37, p.152