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FRENCH, THE (1982)

FRENCH, THE (1982)

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Willian Klein, the legendary American photographer and filmmaker, has put together a body of work as thrillingly eclectic as any living artist. As a director, he is credited with stinging satires (Who Are You, Polly Magoo?), innovative cinéma vérité documentaries (Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther), and scads of groundbreaking commercials. In his Muhammad Ali, the Greatest, Klein found a subject that combined his interest in sport and social criticism, and much the same combination can be seen at work, in a very different cultural context, in The French. Klein shot behind the scenes of the 1981 French Open, a crucial moment in a crucial year in the history of a game, and its iconic players Björn Borg, John McEnroe, Chris Evert, Yannick Noah, and Ivan Lendl.

The French captures, with Klein’s customary eagle eye and whirlwind energy, the noisy bedlam that accompanies any major sporting event. Klein enjoys a level of unfettered access, from locker rooms to TV studios to players’ boxes, and a degree of candor from his subjects that is impossible to imagine in today’s secretive media-trained world.

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