Vietnam - images at war

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Vietnam – The Camera At War

1. Choose two photographs from the 10 above that feature in the documentary. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of war photography as an historical source usingevidence from the photographs you have chosen.

Photographs chosen: “The execution” by Eddie Adams 1968 and “Napalm girl” by Nick Ut 1972.

Strengths:
As a historical source, photographs can providereal evidence of actual facts. Unless it has been modified, a photograph is the image of something that has really happened, it is totally objective and reliable. Unlike other sources such as writtensources, it does not involve any further participation of anyone else. It is not something “told” from a certain point of view, but something “shown”. The origin of the source is not someone with aspecific background, experience and own opinion, but the facts themselves. This makes it a real trustworthy proof. It is true that a soldier was pointing at a Vietnamese young with a gun in the middleof the street. It is undoubtedly true that a group of kids were fleeing from their devastated town of Napalm, that these kids were horrified and that the bombing had been tremendously damaging. We areable to see it with our own eyes, and therefore it becomes much easier to believe it.

Weaknesses:
As it is the image of one moment, one specific and unrepeatable instant in time, and it does notshow the whole scenery of what is being studied but just a tiny part of it, we can say that the source is clearly incomplete. It is a reliable evidence of a specific instant in a specific place, butnot a clear and complete overview of what the general situation was like. In “The execution”, for example, it could have been just that: a mere execution that exceptionally took place.

2. ‘TheVietnam War is called the first televised war, but it is the photographs we remember’. How far do you agree with the assertion that still images are more powerful than moving film?

It is very hard to...
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