One of the most profound themes coursing throughout Sonbert’s work is that of love between couples in all its pitfalls and perfect moments. Sonbert expressed this theme not only between his protagonists onscreen, but also in the relationship between his ever-roving hand-held camera and the human subjects within his field of vision. The Bad and the Beautiful is noteworthy for Sonbert’s use of in-camera editing, in which he assembled together individual 100-foot camera rolls (that he shot) into a series of mini-narratives. Each camera roll sequence captures an individual couple in unusually intimate, quotidian moments: eating, making love, dancing, and whiling away the time. Beginning in 1968, Sonbert abandoned his earlier filmmaking style, which had brought him such notoriety in the public press while he was still a teenager. He began using his hand-held Bolex camera to enlarge his field of vision beyond New York, recording footage as he traveled around the world. The Tuxedo Theatre offers evidence of Sonbert’s first steps in developing his unique style of montage, which subsequently resulted in his magnum opus, Carriage Trade.
The Bad And The Beautiful
Warren Sonbert, USA 1967, 16 mm, colour, 34 min
The Tuxedo Theatre
Warren Sonbert, USA 1968, 16 mm, colour, 21 min