Release Date: May 9th, 2007 (Film Forum) by First Run/Icarus.
Directed by Hans Pool and Maaik Krijgsman.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the significance of four iconic, world-famous photos from the last few decades.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This mildly fascinating documentary examines four iconic photos: a South Vietnamese general shooting a suspected North Vietnamese guerrilla; tanks approaching a lone Chinese student in Tiananmen Square; wounded U.S. soldiers aboard a helicopter during the first Gulf War; and the last image of Chilean president Salvador Allende before he was killed during a 1983 coup. It’s compelling to listen to photojournalists such as Charlie Cole, Eddie Adams and David Turnley explain what makes the photos they took so meaningful and, of course, iconic. One of the U.S. soldiers from the helicopter photo gives a very interesting reaction to looking at the photo after over 10 years. Unfortunately, the explanation of the word “iconic” doesn’t show up until somewhere in the middle of the film; it should have been explained in the very beginning. Also, co-directors Hans Pool and Maiik Krijgsman go back and forth between each photo rather than sticking to one, analyzing/discussing it and then logically moving on to the next photo. At a running time of 55 minutes, Looking for an Icon doesn’t go far enough into the meaning of the word “icon”, but at least it remains a fascinating examination of four photos which would probably interest photojournalism students the most. Preceded by The Day You’ll Love Me, a much more focused, yet only 30-minute documentary by director Leandro Katz, about a October 1967 photo of revolutionary Che Guevara’s cadaver. Photographer Freddy Alborta and social critic/art historian John Burger thoroughly analyze many details of the photo and its symbolism.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: None, other than how there’s more to iconic photos than meets the eye. In other words, if you want to take a photograph that will be published on the front page, make sure that it can be interpreted and analyzed in many ways rather than taking a simple photograph with an obvious symbolism.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Looking for an Icon feels a bit unfocused and not insightful enough.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
IN A NUTSHELL: Looking for an Icon lacks focus and sufficient insight, unlike the more compelling, shorter documentary The Day You’ll Love Me that precedes it.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (photojournalism students)
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