Friday, April 20, 2007

Vietnam's Unseen War

"It was horrible. I didn't want to take any pictures, but I had to record what was left by war. We have to find a way, reporters as well as civilians, Vietnamese as well as other peoples in the world, to prevent scenes like this from happening again"
This documentary tells the tragic story of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a young British photojournalist. In 1962, Tim Page left the ... of the English suburbs to travel through Europe, Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand and Laos. He began to work as a press photographer in Laos; his exclusive images of the 1965 attempted coup earned him a position in the Saigon bureau of UPI.

In Vietnam, Page found himself in a divided land devastated by brutal superpower-sponsored civil war. He became one of a small band of civilian freelance photographers who were willing to take outrageous risks in order to secure the perfect shot. Page was wounded in action three times. In April 1969, he was struck by an enormous piece of shrapnel as he attempted to load wounded soldiers into a helicopter.
Page’s recovery from his injury was long and painful. As he embarked upon a lengthy course of ... he became closely involved with the Vietnam Veterans peace movement, also working as a care-giver for young men who had suffered mental trauma and physical injuries as a result of the desperate and senseless conflict.
In this gripping programme, we join Page as he returns to the land where he almost lost his life. Amid the drama and lunacy of 1960s and 1970s Vietnam, Page’s colleagues joked that the fearless young photojournalist would never make it to the age of twenty-three. We join an older, more contemplative Page as he meets photographers from the ‘other side.’ While Page and his camera-toting colleagues chose to become absorbed in the turmoil of the Vietnam War, North Vietnam’s photographers had no such choice.
We observe Page’s revealing meeting with the people who photographed the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. These brave men developed their pictures in jungle streams and made flash powder from bullets to light their subjects. They spent endless months in the field, dodging bullets, bombs, bad water, malaria and deadly snakes. Their pictures captured the beauty and resilience of the human spirit, and the meaningless bloodshed of war.
‘Vietnam’s Unseen war’ is a haunting film, featuring pictures which are both harrowing and inspiring. Page’s story demonstrates that these visual representations of a nation’s suffering still have the power to move us deeply, more than thirty years after North Vietnamese troops marched into Saigon.


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