When the Sky Fell Down – the Myth of Guy Bourdin is the definitive film on one of the most influential visual artists of our time. Featuring full access to the entire Guy Bourdin archive including never before seen films shot by Bourdin himself, this feature documentary tells the story of an enigmatic artist who revolutionized the world of fashion photography and a son’s struggle to rescue his fathers legacy from obscurity.



Bourdin models

Jerry Hall, Jane Birkin, Marissa Berenson, Anouk Aimee, Catherine Deneuve*, Dominique Sanda, Brooke Shields*, Angelica Houston, Sharon Stone*, Annie Lennox *, Princess Stephanie *, Janice Dickson, Deb Dickson, Lio, Dale Haddon, Nicole Meyer, Nicole Bordeaux, Tracy Wein, Susan Moncur, Mounia & Iman*.

Contemporary artists and peers

Annie Leibovitz, Olivier Toscani, Araki, Jean Paul Goode, Sarah Moon, Nan Goldin, Paolo Roversi, Steve Hiett, Ellen Von Unwerth, Laurence Sackman, Bob Richardson, Tony McGee, David Bailey, Terry Richardson, Nick Knight, Madona* & Grace Coddington.


Artists and filmmakers influenced by his work

Lord David Puttnam, Catherine Breilart, Jim Jarmusch, Chris Doyle, Agnes Varda, Sophia Coppola*, David Lynch*, Madonna*, Mick Jagger* & David Hockney*.

Fashion designers

Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Sonia Rykial, Emmanuelle Ungaro, Marc Jacobs, & Alber Elbaz.

Editors & Creative Directors of French, Italian, British, American Vogue
Art critics and historians 

Martin Harrisson, Christian Caujolle, Philipe Garner, Simon du Pury, Robert Delpire  (former director Centre Nationale de Photographie Paris), & Jack Lang (former French minister of the Arts). David Putnem

*Interviews pending




Klaus van den Berg talks to Guy Bourdin’s son Samuel and director Sean Brandt to gain deeper insight into the making of their documentary.


Guy Bourdin is considered one of the most daring and innovative visual artists of the 20th century. With intense sensibility, he was able to touch generations of readers by creating a moment of magic using the most transient form of expression—the glossy magazine page. A singular artist with a unique perception on art, fashion, advertising and life, Bourdin was responsible for the groundbreaking turning point in the world of image making.

In his first editorial for Vogue Paris in 1955, Guy Bourdin marked the beginning of “the new anti establishment” in fashion photography. Titled ‘Chapeaux-Choc’ he posed his model in the meat market of Paris’ Les Halles. Here Bourdin juxtaposed the latest creations of milliner Claude Saint Cyr with dead cows’ heads and eviscerated rabbits. The elegantly appointed model looked back at Guy Bourdin’s lens with the usual complacency, amplifying the surreal backdrop setting. This was far from the standard Vogue fare.

For the next 35 years, Bourdin was the photographer darling of Europe’s most prestigious fashion magazines. Using fashion photography as his medium, he explored the realms between the absurd and the sublime. Famed for his suggestive narratives, impeccable decors, and surreal aesthetics, Bourdin radically broke conventions of commercial photography with a relentless perfectionism and a sharp humor. For over 30 years, Guy Bourdin’s photographs pushed the limits of what constituted contemporary fashion photography.

Working with Guy Bourdin was a challenge. Only a few could handle it and many in the industry claimed he was impossible. It was well known that he flatly refused to work with people born under certain signs of the zodiac. Often, he would simply disappear on shoots. The stories are legendary: appearing unannounced at Vogue with a camel; setting a house on fire so he could photograph the escaping models; or his habit of taking sleeping pills for days at a time in order to dream. One never knew what Guy Bourdin would deliver. What was certain was that he would strive for the impossible.

Despite his success Bourdin ultimately chose to distance himself from the vanities that surrounded him, preferring to live in the shadows. He never gave interviews and shunned being photographed. He never published books and rarely exhibited. As a result, his visionary work was almost lost to obscurity. Since his death, Bourdin’s controversial creative methods have been criticized and his archives impounded, while his oeuvre almost disappeared amongst the ensuing maelstrom. Today, the myths that circulate about his life’s work remain shrouded in controversy and contradiction. When the Sky Fell Down aims to set the record straight.

Almost 20 years after his death, the Guy Bourdin renaissance is in full swing. Across the globe, crowds flock to the world’s most prestigious museums to experience his work face-to-face. His shows have received unprecedented attendance and a plethora of media attention. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Bourdin’s work and notoriety are now alive and well, and continue to generate speculation about his life and his creative process. Tracing Bourdin’s story across half a century, When the Sky Fell Down is an exploration of the life, work and legacy of a revolutionary artist.
In shooting this documentary, Sean Brandt conducted more than 150 interviews with Bourdin’s family, friends, collaborators, mistresses and stars. They share stories about his eccentricities, tell anecdotes about his controversial photo shoots, offer insights into his work and his legacy. Interviewees include Bourdin models such as Jerry Hall, Jane Birkin, Marissa Berrenson, Anouk Aimee and Dominique Sanda. Contemporary artists and peers include Annie Leibovitz, Oliviero Toscani, Araki, Jean Paul Goude, Sarah Moon, Nan Goldin, Paolo Roversi, Steve Hiett, Ellen Von Unwerth, David Bailey, Terry Richardson, Nick Knight, Albert Watson and Grace Coddington also contribute, as well as artists and filmmakers influenced by his work such as Lord David Puttnam, Jim Jarmusch, Chris Doyle and Agnès Varda. Fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld, Tom Ford, Sonia Rykiel, Emmanuelle Ungaro, Marc Jacobs and Alber Elbaz also appear in the film, as do the editors and creative directors of French, Italian, British and American Vogue. Brandt also speaks to art critics and historians including Martin Harrisson, Christian Caujolle, Philipe Garner, Robert Delpire and the former French Minister of Culture, Jack Lang.

Shot all over the world, these candid interviews take us to the image centers of Paris, London, New York and Tokyo, and to the far-flung corners of the globe: rural France, the Italian countryside, the Great Wall of China, and small-town South America. Brandt shoots his subjects in swanky hotel rooms, down at heel cafes, magazine offices, deserted cemeteries and artists’ studios with a photographer’s keen eye for composition and lighting. And as an industry insider, he easily gains the trust of his subjects who speak openly and revealingly about Bourdin. Brandt has traveled from Australia across Europe and North America to China and Japan as he follows the exhibitions dedicated to Guy Bourdin across the globe. This observational footage provides a remarkable documentation of Bourdin’s rebirth. In addition to these insightful interviews, Brandt has access to the entire archive of Bourdin’s work, which contains over 6000 still images and 12 hours of personal footage filmed by Bourdin. Shot on Super 8 and 16mm film, it documents Bourdin’s family holidays and photo shoots. Along with the interviews, this remarkable footage will add a distinctive texture to the overall film.

This text is taken from an article published in Zoo Magazine and includes an interview by market & trend researcher Klaus van den Berg who talks to Guy Bourdin’s son Samuel and director Sean Brandt to gain deeper insight into the making of their documentary.

A journey through Guy Bourdin’s oeuvre

Compiled by Shelley Verthime



Guy Bourdin – Recent Retrospectives 2003 – 2017

2003 Victoria & Albert Museum, London
2004 National Gallery Victoria, Melbourne
2004 Jeu de Paume, Paris
2004 FOAM, Amsterdam
2005 NRW, Dusseldorf
2005 National Art Museum of China, Beijing
2005 Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai
2005 Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
2006 Daimaru Umeda Museum, Osaka
2006 Phillips de Pury / New York City
2006 Guggenheim / Venice
2006 HSBC Foundation/Paris
2007 Hollywood Centre/HK
2008 Today’s Art Museum/Beijing
2008 Kunst Haus Wein,Vienna
2008 Foto Museum, Antwerp
2008 Moscow House of Photography, Moscow
2009 MUBE, Sao Paolo
2009 Gallery Carla Sozzani, Milan

2009 Photography Festival, Cannes
2009 Le Bon Marche, Paris
2010 Canal Isabel II/ Madrid
2010 10 Corso Como/ Seoul
2010 French Consulate/ New York
2011 Museu de Arte Contemporânea do RS, Porto Alegre, Brasil

2013 Rencontres d’Arles, France
2013 Deichtorhallen museum, Hamburg
2013 Vogue China/ Beijing, China
2013 Fondation Alinari, Florence, Italy
2014 Somerset House, London (LAST 10 DAYS ATTENDANCES 51,866)
2015 Fotografiska, Stockholm, Sweden
Studio Des Acacias, Paris
Tate Modern, London