David Bailey Biopic: We’ll take Manhattan
Posted on January 20, 2012
In a one-off drama called ‘We’ll Take Manhattan’ Aneurin Barnard (a Welsh actor) portrays a young David Bailey. Based in 1962, the drama focuses on a week-long photoshoot for Vogue in New York and explores the relationship between the one of the world’s most famous photographers and 1960s supermodel Jean Shrimpton (played by Karen Gillan).
Aneurin Barnard and Karen Gillan in We’ll Take Manhattan. Photos: BBC/Kudos
Exploring the story of how Bailey and Shrimpton first met, this one-off drama reveals how a young, visionary fashion photographer refused to conform. He insisted on using the unconventional model Jean Shrimpton on an important photo shoot for British Vogue and, over the course of a freezing week in Manhattan, threw out the rule book and made startling, original photographs.
Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: “The story of David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton is classic territory for BBC Four – a moment in time, a fusion of talents, that had a huge impact on cultural life. It is a drama that is all about being alive and taking a chance, being young and kicking down the statues, and yet it is also a beautiful love story. And if you want to know why our world looks like it does, then this is the drama that tells you.”
Along with Terence Donovan he captured, and in many ways helped create, the Swinging London of the 1960s, mixing the culture of high fashion with celebrity chic. As such, Bailey became as famous as the people he photographed, who included fashion designer Mary Quant, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, singers Marianne Faithfull and Sandie Shaw, actresses Mia Farrow, Catherine Deneuve and Geraldine Chaplin, actors Peter Sellers and Michael Caine, and models Jean Shrimpton, Twiggy and Penelope Tree. Bailey also photographed the period’s street fashions in London and New York for magazines such as Glamour and American Vogue. ‘I wanted to be like Fred Astaire,’ he has said, ‘but I couldn’t, so instead I went for the next best thing, which was to be a fashion photographer.’
Bailey’s direct, ‘in your face’, high contrast portraits, which showed an indebtedness to Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, established a look which still dominates editorial portraiture to this day. His tightly cropped images, which broke many of the established rules of photography, fitted the times well and brought a new style of transparency and full exposure to the burgeoning celebrity culture. In over 40 years Bailey has felt no need to change the way he shoots his subjects, predominantly using black and white film, shooting with minimal props, and employing striking contrasts between light and dark tones.
‘We’ll Take Manhattan’ is aired on BBC Four at 21:00 Thu 26 Jan 2012, and available on the BBC iPlayer for a further 7 days. My PVR is already set for this one.