An Unlikely Weapon

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Total Count: 14


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The weapon in question is not a firearm (as might be expected) but a camera: from the 1950s through the early 21st century, photojournalist and sports photographer Eddie Adams (1933-2004) caught a series of indelible images through his lens that dramatically reshaped the way in which the general public perceived the world. Adams perhaps gained broadest recognition for his wartime photography, delivering his most leaden punch in Vietnam, with a series of gritty, grainy, and shocking images that never shied from revealing the carnage and vile brutality of the war; in particular, his image of General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner via a gunshot to the head attained iconic status and led many to attribute the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam to Adams. Yet Vietnam only represented one of the photographer's coups; among other accomplishments, he "served" in 12 additional wars and used a series of photographic images to convince then-president Jimmy Carter to offer asylum to 200,000 boat people from Vietnam. In her documentary An Unlikely Weapon, filmmaker Susan Morgan Cooper takes on Adams as her subject, and -- shearing away all explorations of his personal life and history -- focuses exclusively on his professional life and personal vision as a photographer. Cooper cross-cuts between onscreen images of Adams's work and revealing interviews with many of his colleagues including Morley Safer, the late Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw.


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Critic Reviews for An Unlikely Weapon

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (3)

  • A picture of a complex mind with a gift for capturing humanity and inhumanity with heartbreaking force.

    Jul 10, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • As chock-full of insights -- from Peter Jennings, Peter Arnett, Gordon Parks among others -- it is the famed war photojournalist's works that still create space to be startled, to be rewired.

    Jul 3, 2009 | Full Review…
  • It's their reminiscences that are the most poignant and revealing about a man who seems, in Cooper's interviews, to have done all he could to conceal himself.

    Apr 24, 2009

    John Anderson

    Top Critic
  • In the documentary An Unlikely Weapon, Adams and people such as Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Morley Safer talk extensively about his career as a photojournalist for The Associated Press and later for Time, Parade and even Penthouse.

    Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The man had stories to tell, in person and in his pictures.

    Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The strongest material in An Unlikely Weapon contemplates the import of that shot, and of photojournalism itself, on the events of its time.

    Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

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