An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +4

Content: -3

An insightful documentary by Susan Morgan Cooper, with appearances by Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Gordon Parks. Opens April 10th in NYC.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, An Unlikely Weapon is the story behind a photograph that some say ended the Vietnam War. In 1968, while covering the war for the Associated Press, Eddie Adams photographed a Saigon police chief, General Nguyen Nygoc Loan, shooting a Vietcong guerilla point blank. Ironically, it was Adams’ shot that was heard around the world, taken at 1/500th of a second!

 The photo brought Adams fame and a Pulitzer, but the man he had vilified haunted him. Adams would later say, “Two lives were destroyed that day – the victim’s and the general.” Yet, others would say, three lives were destroyed, for Adams, like most artists, was tortured by his need for perfection. Nothing he did ever satisfied him. He carved out many careers, shooting covers for Life, Time, and even Penthouse. Yet, somehow Adams was always pulled back into documenting wars – 13 all together. Finally he hit the wall and couldn’t take it anymore. He began shooting celebrities because “it doesn’t take anything from you.” Adams was comfortable with kings and coal miners. During his time with Parade magazine, he photographed Clint Eastwood, Louis Armstrong, Jerry Lewis, Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Brokaw, Jennings and those not so familiar by face recognition matter-of-factly present our involvement in Vietnam as America’s worst moment, then link it to our presence in Iraq. It’s hard to argue that U. S. soldiers involved in that conflict became as savage as the enemy, but have you ever noticed, we tended to be the only savages in Southeast Asia, according to most filmmakers. The enemy is never vilified, nor has there ever been a major motion picture depicting the result of America’s exit from Vietnam, which led to the slaughter of thousands of Vietnamese.

The very nature of war is horrific and without question it will bring out the savagery of those facing battle. What’s more, it is well documented that the experience will haunt good men forced to do bad things. But are the nations who start wars ever presented such anti-aggressive propaganda? Is it proper to present an anti-war message to just one side of the conflict? Are there not just wars?

I fear an industry that desires only to present one side of the argument. I mention this because the hatred of our involvement in that war is subtly infused within the telling of Eddie Adams’ life story, despite his own conflicting views on the subject.

Adams’ devotion to his art resulted in a tapestry of work by which he reminded viewers of what man was and what he was capable of becoming. The political aspects aside, Susan Morgan Cooper’s documentary inspires those with an artistic nature to do better at their chosen craft, while giving others an appreciation for the power of art. For truly, a picture is worth a thousand words.

As for any spiritual reflection, those with an artistic nature continually seem at war with themselves. The greater the artist, usually the greater the conflict. And many artists see themselves as creators, yet so many of them are unable to accept the Creator’s existence. Mr. Adams seemed ill at ease with life, and the depiction here would indicate that he too was unable to grasp the reality of a Higher Power.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Morgan Cooper Productions

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A few crude remarks, but mainly the film gets it’s rating for one graphic videotaping of an actual execution and for the language.

Obscene Language: Around 40 obscenities, mostly the f-word, and mostly by Mr. Adams.

Profanity: I caught two profane uses of God’s name.

Violence: An execution caught on camera. Blood: Blood spurts from the dead man’s head wound.

Sex: Shots of nudes for Penthouse magazine.

Nudity: Brief shots of nudes for Penthouse

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time: 85 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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