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  1. #21
    Bill Hahn's Avatar
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    More on "photography made difficult"

    As far as I know, the only actor in "Photography Made Difficult" is Peter Riegert, playing Smith. Everybody else - John Berger, John Morris, Ted Castle, Ed Thompson, Ben Maddow, A.D. Coleman, the various wives, Jasmine et al - are the real folks being interviewed....in fact I see some of the same people in the film footage in "Brilliant Fever". In fact, sometimes there is interaction between Riegert, playing Smith, and actual people from Smith's life, like the mother of Tomoko Uemura.

    But it is true that Peter Riegert neither looks like nor sounds like Smith.

    I have a great interest in history, and am usually very skeptical about so called documentaries involving re-creation. But this one I love, because they used Smith's actual words, and it tells the story of his life, and there are all those wonderful pictures....plus it gave Ed Thompson's side of the story (quitting Life) as well as Smith's :-).....


    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    Thanks for clearing up the source for the actors words, Bill. It makes the film even more enjoyable.
    [edit] Also, I am printing out your list of other photodocs. Thanks for posting it.
    "I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright

  2. #22
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    Sorry Bill, that was supposed to be Actor's not Actors. I was only referring to Peter Riegert. My fault

    One thing that I found interesting and never considered before was that for a photo essayist, Life was really the only game in town back then. If you weren't working for them, you better find another line of work. Can you think of any other 1950s mags that did photo essay features? I'm thinking maybe National Geographic and, didn't Look do photographic features?
    This is a historical question, I was busy gestating and being born at the time and didn't have a lot of spare time for reading magazines.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  3. #23
    Bill Hahn's Avatar
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    No problem. I thought you were aware of this, I just want to "sell" this documentary to others.

    I was born in 1949, so I barely remember much of the 50's. There was Life, Look and National Geographic. I know Walker Evans did photo essays for Fortune, but never saw any of them. Popular Photography let Smith put his Pittsburgh essay in their 1959 annual, but neither Smith nor the magazine was happy with it.

    There are Life magazine pictures I remember looking at as a kid that I've never forgotten (or seen since). One showed a gentleman seated at a table, staring intently at a chessboard with pieces on it. The table was on a stage, there is nobody in the chair opposite him. In the background a much younger man is pacing. Probably one of the Tal-Botvinnik world championship matches from 1960-61. When I saw this picture I knew nothing about chess, but got caught up in the Fischer mania 12 years later...


    Quote Originally Posted by Flotsam
    Sorry Bill, that was supposed to be Actor's not Actors. I was only referring to Peter Riegert. My fault

    One thing that I found interesting and never considered before was that for a photo essayist, Life was really the only game in town back then. If you weren't working for them, you better find another line of work. Can you think of any other 1950s mags that did photo essay features? I'm thinking maybe National Geographic and, didn't Look do photographic features?
    This is a historical question, I was busy gestating and being born at the time and didn't have a lot of spare time for reading magazines.
    "I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright

  4. #24
    Bill Hahn's Avatar
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    The internet is wonderful...a quick search showed this:

    http://www.worldchessnetwork.com/Eng...pMatch1961.jpg

    But back to the Smith documentary...
    "I bought a new camera. It's so advanced you don't even need it." - Steven Wright

  5. #25

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    I watched the W Eugene Smith doc on video about 5 years back & thought it was excellent.
    Like others, i was apprehensive about the use of an actor to play Smith, but I thought it worked well. As I recall he isn't actually walking about & speaking. There is footage of him with cameras, in the darkroom etc while his voiceover narrates using direct quotes from Smith.
    Also this footage is used sparingly.
    God how I hate the recent trend for all documentaries to have extensive 'recreated' scenes. I used to love watching shows on ancient Rome etc, but these days they are full of slow-mo sequences of a bunch of extras in hired costumes running around a campfire.

    There is a good DVD called 'Dream Lives' about 2 Aussie photographers - Trent Parke & Narelle Autio. Runs for 30 mins & was made for Australian TV. They are a couple who are both excellent documentary & street photographers. The DVD has a lot of footage of them at work on various projects as well as shots of their work. Trent Parke is now a member of Magnum & I think has a book coming out soon called 'Minutes to Midnight' which should be excellent, based on his exhibition of the same name.

    A few years back I borrowed a video doc from the library about Bill Brandt. Made in the 70s I think. It wasn't great, but worthwhile to see him interviewed. He was somewhat evasive in his answers. The interviewer mentions how often the subjects in his portraits are off centre, or placed at the edge of frame. Brandt expresses surprise at this, so the interviewer shows him a range of examples. Brandt sits there saying 'Isn't that extraordinay, never noticed that before' etc. Obviously didn't like to give too much away.

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