Lee Miller on film

I hereby confess that my motivation for today’s post is to fill a fairly large gap in my own knowledge. Photographer Lee Miller, born on this day in 1907, has been on the periphery of my consciousness for years, but apart from her appearance in Jean Cocteau’s Le Sang d’un poète, some stunning Surrealist portraits and a little of her war photography, I am largely ignorant of her life and work.

But I know enough to know I want to know more, so I pass on this documentary; we can watch it together and compare notes. A warning: from the little I’ve seen the video quality is sub-par and evidently the last part cuts off without conclusion, but hopefully we’ll all learn something.



  1. I’ve only got time tonight to watch the first film, will have to watch the others later. I was unaware of her childhood trauma, a terrible thing to have happened to a young girl. she was so beautiful and talented

  2. butterscotchclouds

    I’ll be happy to watch when I get the chance, as I don’t know much about her beyond anecdotes like this http://books.google.com/books?id=k5qvm7pOI8AC&lpg=PA157&dq=bettina%20bergery&pg=PA157#v=onepage&q=bettina%20bergery&f=false which paint her as the typical spoiled American abroad before the second war. (Bettina Bergery, incidentally, sounds like the perfect candidate for a documentary of her own, but I think I’m the only person who would watch it.)

  3. A favorite! By the way, thanks for the daily posst. I appeciate the wits, smarts and histocial tidbits! Signed, a fan (Bravo!! Theadora)

  4. Oh, my.I just spotted two typos: “Daily posts.” And I appreciate the “wit” not the “wits.” Goodness. It’s been a long day. And it’s just the beginning. Oh, la la! Theadora

  5. we had a great retrospective of her work in london almost 20yrs ago i guess. many of the great early photographers seem ‘out of fashion ‘ these days for no explicable reasons as they are so relevent. angus mcbean is one i love returning to.

  6. butterscotchclouds

    The Kaufman profile, this documentary and now an avalanche of McBean photos! So much to catch up on…

    • butterscotchclouds

      My catching up day continues…

      — Implying that Lee’s rape had anything to do with her promiscuity is wrong; her promiscuity was a choice, the assault was not. Maybe this early objection set me against the documentary, but there was much that irritated me. The unending music, the odd pseudo-reenactments… Still, it had highlights. (I hope I don’t sound too critical, I’m glad to have watched it!)

      — Ona Munson had a radio show?! I wish I could have a further listen.

      — Lee’s existence on the bank of the Nile sounds a lot like that of mid-century British ex-pats in South Africa. Very “White Mischief.”

      — Her editor at Vogue, Audrey Withers, either had nerves of steel or a brain of straw to allow the magazine to ignore the war for as long as it did. (Well it didn’t completely ignore it, what with ads from Harvey Nichols advertising “Especially designed gas protection costumes… in oiled silk and available in dawn apricot, amethyst, eau-de-nil and rose pink.” according to Wikipedia.)

      — The British Pathe reels shown in the last segment (Lee returning to England and editing photos at Vogue) are available to watch in full at the Pathe website. I had to check, I’m addicted to those little films.

      — The “ability to stumble upon the marvelous” should be in your bio, James! You’ve got it.

      • Embarrassing to admit, but I still haven’t watched these all the way through. I’ve had computer problems of a type which make you realise how utterly dependent on technology you are.

  7. thombeau

    I’ve always been intrigued by her, but know of her mostly through those around her. Look forward to a watching these!

  8. Pingback: Man Ray | portraits « Strange Flowers

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