June 15, 2020

The best podcasts make you think. One of the most recent episodes of the excellent Faculty of Horror covered the films Rec and its sequel, Rec 2. During the episode, hosts Andrea and Alex discuss the film in the context of the shared Spanish trauma of the civil war. The work of Picasso is discussed, especially Guernica and how some of the elements in play in that work crossover and influence this pair of movies,especially the first one.

The episode also got me thinking about the work of Robert Capa. He was a photojournalist who covered the Spanish Civil War, taking perhaps his most famous photo during the conflict, The Falling Soldier.

The Fallen SoldierThe Fallen Soldier

There’s still some debate over whether the photo was real or staged (common consensus currently favours the latter). Capa took many other (non-staged) photos during the conflict and even went on to land ashore with the troops during D-Day. He took a series of photographs that day only to have the majority of them destroyed by an over-zealous lab tech. The pictures that do remain have a washed out slightly surreal look to them. This imagery later went on to influence the look of the infamous opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan.

I say all this because there is something of Capa’s work present in Rec, the closeness to its subject, the notion of using film to speak truth to power and even the way in which the main character’s facade falls away during the movie (as discussed on the podcast). Post civil war, Capa presented himself as a no nonsense, swashbuckling type. He had one great love (fellow photojournalist Gerda Taro whose story is equally as fascinating) tragically cut short during the conflict. Later, he began to lean hard into the adventurer archetype, only later admitting weakness and fear when he came under fire in Israel. Capa himself would be later killed by a land mine in what was then French Indochina.

Ultimately though, Capa and his contemporaries (including Taro) were responsible for the getting the truth out about the Spanish Civil war to the wider world.

Selected photos of his work from the conflict can be found here.

The podcast episode can be found here.


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