FILM: William Klein ‘Broadway by Light’ 1958

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William Klein’s first film is a study of a night in the life of New York’s iconic Broadway. It focuses on the interaction of lights and shadows, colours, shapes and forms as the camera jumps between the flashing bulbs and neon signs of Times Square’s iconic advertising and the silhouettes of men at work on theatre marquees, as they re-arrange letters on the lightboxes. These concrete details are counterbalanced by more impressionistic moments of pure colour, distorted light reflections and severed fragments of words or texts, exemplary of Klein’s life-long interest in typography and composition.

Illustrative of Klein’s transition from photographer to filmmaker, Broadway by Light was declared by Orson Welles to be ‘the first film I’ve seen in which colour was absolutely necessary.’ Klein was encouraged by his friends Alain Resnais and Chris Marker to make the film, and Marker wrote the brief text that appears onscreen at the beginning of the film.


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