What one image can do...

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Dorothy Blum Cooper, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    I saw the preview on television this evening for an upcoming film Flags of Our Fathers.

    I quote from the article "It examines the power of a single image to affect not only public opinion but also the outcome of a war"

    Granted, there's more to the movie than the photograph (politics, government, etc.), but that's not my intent on posting. I'm always amazed and impressed at what one image can do for so many people. In this case, it's about the inspiration that this one particular image has obviously had.

    Just wanted to share this film, its topic and my philosophy that the art of photography can speak volumes without a word said.

    *edited to say that I'm not particularly a fan of the NYT nor am I promoting the movie, rather the topic and its content (the photograph). So please, no politcal bashing! :smile:
     
  2. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Dorothy, when I saw this thread in the Index, that advertisement came immediately to mind. Yes, I saw it too and immediately decided to see the movie when it gets here. So much surrounds that one tiny instant in time, its far too big to describe just the highlights of it. Just the fact that there were two flag raisings and two pictures, one immortal, one forgotten, is a story all in its own.
     
  3. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I agree with all that you say. Thankful am I that you started this thread.

    I am, however, confused. You do specify that I do not bash you politically. This, it seems to me, is a most reasonable request. Therefore, since I am feeling bashfull, I will turn my mind to an altenate form of bashing. This is OK is it not? Do you have any sugesstions to help me out?
     
  4. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Try baseball bat between own eyes :surprised: (just kidding!:tongue: )
     
  5. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    It will be interesting to see how this movie "plays".

    And you are correct that it does speak about the ability of a single image to "move". It was in taken in a battle at the last stages of the Pacific War and America was presumably already deeply committed to bringing that war to a "victorious" conclusion.

    But the question remained - at what cost?

    I think part of the conceit of the film (please look up the definition of "conceit" before responding) is that even in a nation already committed to victory - there were political forces which felt that the individuals in the image could serve a "purpose".

    This was because, some of the politcal administration in charge, not knowing that the outcome would ultimately be decided by the nuclear bombings Nagasaki and Hiroshima, felt a need to prepare Americans for a likely very bloody battle for the Japanese mainland.

    The nuclear project was highly classified. President Truman and his closest advisors wrestled with the morality of the bombing for a very long time. It was unclear if he would authorize it - and so the American people had to be "primed" to accept the possibiltity of a protracted land war in Japan. The heroic image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima was a key icon to help rally the public if the decision had been to "fight it out on the ground".

    In the end, Truman chose to authorize dropping the A-bomb on the premise that the alternative was worse for all.

    So today, with the hindsight of 60+ years, the political empasis placed on the Iwo image is now seen for what it, in part was, a fallback position. In case the decision was not to use the bomb then the American public needed to be "prepped" to accept two or three more years of bloody battle.

    This isn't politics - this is history. Just as public policy demands alternative approaches today - so it always has. Only a foolish leader thinks there is only one solution!

    I believe that the emphasised point is what Eastwood is trying to say with this movie.

    As to your comment about not being a "fan" of the NYT - I don't understand why you say that?
     
  6. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I am on thin ice here but I am guessing that Dorothy does not completely like NYT. So often in the past, I have found that when one uses the expression of "not being a fan of" it represents, generally, a view of less the wholehearted agreement.
     
  7. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    Well said, Alex.

    Thanks for not 'personally' bashing me :wink: Seriously...I simply saw the preview this evening and was impressed at how someone would base an entire movie (much as books have been written) on this one image. It's impressive as hell how one photograph can speak volumes.

    Ok, hear goes. I didn't want to politicize the 'image' aspect of my post (affiliating myself with the NYT). However, it's an institution (the NYT) whose time has come and can quietly go off into the sunset as far as I'm concerned. I saw their article with a decent write up. So, the connection with 'me' and the NYT was made when I shared their link. I'm just not a huge fan. I posted this in the good faith that it would be what it was started to be. The image and the impact of photography and what it has created for others. Maybe I shouldn't have posted my 'opinion' on the NYT. Just didn't want my fellow conservatives to think I was cavin'. :wink:
     
  8. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Yeah, I kinda figured that out - just wasn't sure why she needed to bring it up.

    The movie, BTW, is apparently good history brought forward. Few folks today realize that the bloodiness of Iwo Jima was very sobering to the powers that be.

    While the flag raising was a spectacular image - the cost in deaths and casualties of the battle had been horrible for both sides.

    With the next step being advancing on the Japanese mainland, it was this "cost" which weighed heavily on everyone's minds as they began to consider the alternative of dropping the bomb. In the end, it came down to a "body count" calculation - although no one really knew what the final cost of unleashing "the bomb" might be.

    Decision wise, these folks were really stuck b/w a rock and a hard place.
     
  9. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

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    "Call him drunken Ira Hayes, he won't answer anymore,
    Not the whisky-drinking Indian, nor the Marine that went to war..."
     
  10. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    Hopefully my latest post will enlighten those inquiring minds. Again...my statement was just that. I was 'focusing' on the photograph that the movie was based on. I chose to make a disclaimer. :rolleyes:
     
  11. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Actually, Dorothy, it was your comment about the NYT that seemed to undermine your very request not to make it political.

    But that's transparent.

    I prefer to discuss this on the historical plane.

    Very difficult choices had to be made at the time. The men who raised the flag were an immediate icon. And, if the decision had been to invade mainland Japan and fight a ground war - they would be critical to helping maintain the support of the home front.

    In the end, the decision was made to use the Bomb. And the question then arises - did the attempt to "use" these men further damage them beyond the trauma they'd expreienced fighting one of the most hellish battles ever fought?

    Oh, BTW, I think you will find that even the most conservative of thinkers reads the NYT - I think they consider it an exercise in "knowing thy enemy". :D
     
  12. Dorothy Blum Cooper

    Dorothy Blum Cooper Member

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    Ah...but that doesn't necessarily mean they are fans. :wink:

    "Keep your friends close but your enemies closer."
     
  13. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    The book was written by the son of one of the flag raisers (Rosenthal's picture). Of the three that even made it off the island, he was the only one that lived a full life. Ira Hays and the other man both succumbed to alcoholism. As we all know, Joe Rosenthal just recently passed away. Hays was the subject of a movie centered around him and portrayed by Tony Curtis in the late 1950s.

    I noticed that the movie is directed by Clint Eastwood. I'm sure he will do it as much justice as a film maker can.
     
  14. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Yes, Clint Eastwood is one of the best, if "quieter" directors around. That this is his project makes it more compelling. He is one of those artists who carefully chooses his "shots" - his reputation is secure and he projects true integrity.

    BTW: I "googled" the Battle. It finally ended in March of '45 - having taken over a month.

    At the same time, the war in Europe was winding down (Germany surrended in early May) and soon ended.

    To support Britain, the US had placed the ETO as the primary battlefield of WWII. With the ETO gone - and the nascent cold war with the FSU rising - protracted, very bloody ground warfare against Japan in the PTO was frightening to the Truman administration.

    How could you be celebrating a victory agains "Der Fuerer" in Europe while men were dying in Japan?

    And Iwo Jima seemed to be a particular omen. If the Japanese would give their all (this was the battle that memorialized the concept of the Kamakazie) for one tiny islet - how much more fiercely would they defend the mainland?

    This was the unanswerable question.

    And then, in July of that year (1945) there was The Trinity Test.

    What I think is interesting about Eastwood's approach is that he zooms in from the big events swirling around these men to what it meant to them as individuals. Yes they are icons - but that also they lost something by becoming so.

    This movie could only be made now (or maybe, less well, 30 years ago when there was also an open window to reflection).

    Unlike a lot of recent movies dealing with this era (e.g. Saving Private Ryan) I think I want to see this one.

    After all, Eastwood did such a great job with Charlie Parker that I want to see what he does here.
     
  15. Sjixxxy

    Sjixxxy Member

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    Well, it the movie is as strait forward as the book was it should be great. No invented charcters or hollywood love triangles (Pearl Harbor) or stuff like that. Just strait forward biographies on the six guys, a detailed retelling of the battle for Iwo Jima, and how the fame affected the survivor's lives afterwards.

    Should be good.
     
  16. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    since we're talking images and their effect on the social psyche, what about the image by Nick Ut http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/c.../war_photos/NY2048_AP_CENTURY_COLLECTI_1.html

    that one image brought the reality of what was happening to nearly every household, I remember hearing about it, and I was but a lad of 11 at the time.

    If one searches for info on Kim Phuc (the girl in the photo) there's an amazing story of survival and what she endured afterwards. just one of many hits: http://advance.uconn.edu/2004/041108/04110803.htm


    erie
     
  17. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The movie sound something like "THE BEST YEARS OF THEIR LIVES" kind of thing, from what I gather. Only instead of a bunch of unknowns returning to their small town, this uses men who were immortalized in one of the best know pictures to date.

    The fact that this picture is almost perfect in it's composition is obviously part of its draw.

    The other thing is that the US is a very "military" republic and as such thrives on iconic representation of militarism.

    Possibly the most "unmilitary" representation of a war or war action is the Vietnam Memorial and if you'll remember that it was not well received at first. Then later universally celebrated as a solemn reminder of the people that were lost not just the iconic general on a horse or posing soldier type memorial. Although that was later added to the Vietnam Memorial for some reason.

    As for the one photograph so perfectly representing "and our flag was still there" kind of thing, this picture is iconic perfection.

    Undoubtedly Eastwood used this idea, because like most of us he wondered, where are they now. Who were they, are they still alive? Ingenious filmaking to take a iconic image and create a story around it.


    Michael
     
  18. SeamusARyan

    SeamusARyan Member

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    Just thought I'd mention that Eastwood has made 2 movies out of this one event, the other being "Letters from Iow Jima" which tells the story from the japanese perspective. All things being equal as Eastwood has made both it will be interesting to see the reaction of most people to the films, I assume the west will prefer Flags and the far east will prefer Letters....

    If come awards time, they are to receive acclaim it would be lovely to see both versions honoured equally as they are opposite sides of the same coin, then again they may suck and fight it out for the Razzies.

    be well

    Seamus
    www.seamusryan.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2006