Eddie Adams: War Photographer
And it's hard to watch CBS's Bob Schieffer break down Adams' photographs without recalling how he recently said media bias didn't matter since there are so many news outlets available today.
Adams, who died in 2004 after a battle with Lou Gehrig's disease, proved a better journalist than some of his peers. He brought no specific agenda to his work. He hoped his images would help humanity, and the only book he ever contributed to was one aimed at celebrating those who fought for civil rights without guns or violence.
The film follows Adams through 13 wars, but even when he switched gears from war photographer to celebrity shutterbug for hire, the fire for his craft burned just as brightly.
Adams was a giant in his field, but his personality proved less than agreeable. He was cranky, particular, and stubborn, but he inspired fierce devotion in friends and colleagues alike.
Footage of Adams himself describing his work and his approach pepper the documentary, and his casual profanity punctures any mythology which might swirl around him.
Weapon strives to show how that Vietnam photograph haunted Adams for the rest of his life. It certainly became his professional calling card, the one photograph nearly everyone remembered and the one he couldn't escape.
The reality is Adams' art haunted him more than any single image. He was never satisfied any time he pointed his camera. He always thought he could improve his craft and felt he didn't deserve credit for whatever positive impact his photos might have. At one point the photographer helped carry a wounded U.S. soldier off the battlefield, but he later brushed off attempts to award him for the act.
A potentially powerful segment from the film finds Adams revisiting the general who shot the Vietcong guerrilla in his famous photograph. The reunion came years later after the general had moved to the United States and opened up a Virginia-based pizza shop. But the payoff is incomplete. Adams wasn't the type of person to build up such a reunion, and the film stands on more solid ground when letting his peers describe his work ethic.
An Unlikely Weapon meanders at times, particularly as Adams transitioned from the battleground to Hollywood. But what emerges under director Susan Morgan Cooper's unsparing eye is a portrait of an artist that's nearly as rich as the moments Adams captured on film.