Tonight on HBO: “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures” [Berkshire On Stage]


By Larry Murray

The intriguing documentary “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures” premiered this past January at the Sundance Film Festival and will have its broadcast premiere on HBO at 9pm tonight (Monday, April 4). It couldn’t come at a better time, what with the recent anti-LGBT legislation pushed through the North Carolina legislature and signed by Governor Pat McCrory. The state seems hell bent in making sure everyone knows it’s not particularly accepting of people with differences. McCrory says the objections to his state’s Republican hate bill are being concocted by left-wing activists, accusing them of a “calculated smear campaign.” The ACLU has stepped in, just as it did back during the Mapplethorpe controversy.

So the time could not be riper for taking in this film.

“Look at the pictures,” said Senator Jesse Helms, denouncing the controversial art of Robert Mapplethorpe, whose photographs pushed boundaries with frank depictions of nudity, sexuality and fetishism, igniting a culture war that rages to this day.

More than 25 years later, the HBO Documentary Films presentation “Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures” does just that, taking an unflinching, unprecedented look at his most provocative work. From acclaimed filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (“Inside Deep Throat”; HBO’s “Wishful Drinking” and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and produced by Katharina Otto-Bernstein (“Absolute Wilson”), the first feature-length documentary about the artist since his death and the most comprehensive film on Mapplethorpe ever, debuts tonight on HBO.

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