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1 review, 20 user ratings

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Robert Capa: In Love and War
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by Chris Parry

"Both filmmaker and subject are absolutely top-drawer."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: As far as war heroes go, one who seems to be largely unremembered by the rank and file is Robert Capa. When he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam and died age 42, he'd been on the front lines of every major battle of the previous twenty years, having developed over 70,000 negatives of wartime imagery. He saw it all, a man get his head blown off as he snapped the guy's picture, death and destruction, bravery and cowardice. While others fled the dropping bombs in London and Madrid and Paris, he stood, set up his camera and took photos of those running away. And this documentary does as good a job as you could ever ask for of explaining who Capa was, what he did and why he should be remembered as one of the true heroes in the battle against fascism.

A Hungarian-born photographer who lost his one true love to an out of control enemy tank, Frank Capa wasn’t actually born, he was created. When Andre Friedman, an unknown lens-man, couldn’t sell his work to magazines and newspapers in Paris, he and his girlfriend created a fictional character – a famous American photographer who was always on assignment and could never be reached. Suddenly these pictures were worth a lot of money and the legend of Robert Capa was born.

In time, Capa became one of the elite photographers in the world, but the rise of fascism in Europe began to press on everyone’s life, especially his own. When the nazis goose-stepped into Paris, Capa fled to Madrid. While there, he began to run out of places to go, so he stayed, filmed the locals in their hour of despair and got those pictures out to the free world. With his long time love by his side, the two pushed deep into the front lines, right up alongside the folks that were getting arms and legs blown off. That his girl soon became a casualty of war was unsurprising. That Capa managed to survive two decades of front line action is astonishing.

And he didn’t just survive, he brought back pictures that have become historic records of the time. He was there at the D-Day landing, though over 100 of his 120 pictures of the event were ruined by a nervous London lab technician. Accused of being a communist sympathizer in America and undoubtedly pursued by the nazis in Europe, Capa became a man with no home town, to the point where when he began an affair with Ingrid Bergman and she suggested she might leave her husband, Capa refused and told her it wouldn’t work out. A battlefield photographer and a Hollywood queen surely could never be a happy fit.

Thank PBS and director Anne Makepeace for this undeniably quality documentary production. Using still footage along with moving pictures of the time, as well as interviews with those who knew him, Makepeace paints a stunning portrait of a man that deserves to have one hung in every newsroom in the western world. Journalists of today could have learned much from Capa, but even if they learned a tenth of his daring and charisma and drive to get to the real truth, the world of journalism would be a far better place.

Capa pushed and pushed until he finally got unlucky, but you’d have to say, especially after watching this superb documentary of his life and loves, that he knew it was coming. (Catch this doco on PBS in March.)

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/19/03 13:11:01
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 San Francisco Film Festival. For more in the 2003 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/18/06 kittie wow 5 stars
11/11/05 Alford A story that needed to be told 5 stars
10/19/05 Henk Otten Superb documentary with powerfull images. Which band played the 'peanut vendor' ? 5 stars
10/11/05 Jasmine Gibson Very Boring!!!!! 2 stars
3/03/05 HORAN THE MAN!!!!! BLAHHHHHHHHHHH !!!!!! 1 stars
1/01/05 R.W. Welch Fascinating biodoc about "a man who invented himself." 5 stars
12/11/04 Whoop Whoop A great documentary for TV. 4 stars
6/26/04 egon douglas photography I'm not a PJournalist, but I thought this film was amazing, inspiring, and worth every min! 5 stars
6/20/04 Jean Gallup Impressive on many levels 5 stars
6/04/04 Leslie Dock This film inspired me as an artist and human being to do something special with my life. 5 stars
6/03/04 Flint Maynard I loved it. What great a tribute to someone who contributed so much to all of us! 5 stars
7/26/03 Fernando Guerrero Muy bueno, personaje interesante por lu labor profesional 5 stars
6/12/03 carol charlebois A very moving documentary 5 stars
6/10/03 Eduardo Pages Excellent. Brings justice and light to a man not very well known to present generation 5 stars
6/03/03 bob scott great 5 stars
5/30/03 Ramzi What an extraordinary, yet sweetly melancholic life! 5 stars
5/30/03 Jack Allen They don't make guys like this anymore and that's a damn shame. He had guts and conviction 5 stars
5/29/03 Tom Deaver A must see for all: the worlds greatest photographer's masterful visual biography 5 stars
4/28/03 Alex Fraser An engrossing documentary. Capa influenced his time and ours. 5 stars
1/23/03 Mr Math Some pretty good television right here. 4 stars
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  28-Mar-2003 (G)



Directed by
  Anne Makepeace

Written by
  Anne Makepeace

  Goran Visjnic
  Isabella Rosellini

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