W Eugene Smith -- Photojournalist

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fireflydances
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W Eugene Smith -- Photojournalist

Unread post by fireflydances » Tue Feb 22, 2022 10:46 pm

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W Eugene Smith - Photography Made Difficult

Minamata is the first movie in a very long time that has inspired me to look further. That afternoon in the theater I decided I had to go back the following weekend and sit through it again because of the effect it had on me. When I learned that wasn't going to be possible, I decided instead to fill myself up with the story of Eugene Smith. To get ahold of as much as I could about his life, his work, his beginnings, everything I could find to understand what made the person I saw in the movie that afternoon.

I already knew something about Eugene Smith and Minamata. You couldn't grow up in the US in the Seventies and not have some memory of that photo. I remember finding the magazine lying on a low table in the library between classes and picking it up. The photo shocked me deeply. Beautiful but also ugly because of the horror of disfigurement. I was young and I had no reference point for something so terrible. No way to work through it, and I think that’s why I held onto it so hard.

After that I had Eugene Smith antenna for years. I bought a copy of Family of Man because it had that iconic picture of Eugene's children on the back page. I tried to buy a used copy of the book Minamata written by Eugene and Aileen Smith. At the time there was not one copy, not one single copy that could be purchased. That happens sometimes with books; they go out of print, and single copies get snatched up fast by collectors. I sort of gave up for awhile, put it on the back burner. Then I heard that Depp was working on a film about Minamata.

These days the internet is a vast library where you can find and metaphorically own just about anything on anything. So, after losing access to that second go-round with Minamata and being still hungry for images and documentary-style stories, I decided to go the video route and spent an entire Saturday looking at every Smith-related video I could pull up on YouTube.

I am linking here what I consider the most comprehensive portrait of Eugene Smith available online. I have chosen this one because it tracks Smith across his life, and through a variety of interviews with people that knew him well, giving viewers a deep sense of the man. And this is a very complicated man. If you know little to nothing about Eugene Smith, this video will insure that your experience of the film Minamata will be deeper than it would be otherwise. It also demonstrates how perfectly Depp has captured Smith, and that says something about the superlative work done in this film. It is a bit long – watch it over several nights.
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March 1, 1977 in New York City. (Photo by Arnold Newman/Liaison Agency)
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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W Eugene Smith -- Photojournalist

Unread post by nebraska » Tue Mar 01, 2022 8:03 pm

When discussion about Johnny and the movie first started I was able to buy a used copy of the book "Minamata" written by Eugene and Aileen Smith. Even with it being a used book with a "used" appearing cover, it was expensive, and I might not have purchased it except I had birthday gift money to pay half the purchase price. It is a beautiful book and tells the story in some detail. I felt very fortunate! If anyone has a chance to get their hands on a library or borrowed copy I would encourage them to read it.

Thanks for the link, firefly, I will have to watch the video.

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W Eugene Smith -- Photojournalist

Unread post by fireflydances » Tue Mar 01, 2022 10:20 pm

nebraska wrote:
Tue Mar 01, 2022 8:03 pm
When discussion about Johnny and the movie first started I was able to buy a used copy of the book "Minamata" written by Eugene and Aileen Smith. Even with it being a used book with a "used" appearing cover, it was expensive, and I might not have purchased it except I had birthday gift money to pay half the purchase price. It is a beautiful book and tells the story in some detail. I felt very fortunate! If anyone has a chance to get their hands on a library or borrowed copy I would encourage them to read it.

Thanks for the link, firefly, I will have to watch the video.
I saw one for sale recently --- $200. I did purchase a copy of "Let Truth Be The Prejudice -- W. Eugene Smith: HIs Life and Photographs, It has photos from the Minamata book but only a few. It was printed on wonderful paper and there are photos taken from each of Smith's photo essays. I also bought a copy of an excellent biography --- Gene Smith's Sink, A Wide-Angle View -- author: Sam Stephenson, 2017.

Hope you enjoy the video.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies