Several years ago, I watched a documentary that has fascinated me, and haunted me for years. The 2011 documentary, directed by Trisha Ziff is The Mexican Suitcase . It tells the story of the recovery of over 4,000 film negatives of the Spanish Civil War captured by photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Toro, and David 'Chim' Seymore. The negatives were considered lost since 1939 so their discovery in a suitcase in Mexico in 2007 is quite the story. I know the documentary is available to rent through Amazon, and is well worth the rental fee.
Over the years, Robert Capa’s images, stories, and legacy have appeared in movies, articles, books… as constant reminders that I should learn more about him. I recently bought a copy of Robert Capa: A Biography by Richard Whelan. I just started reading the book, but since today (October 22, 1913) is Capa’s birthday, I thought I would share four things about him so we can learn together.
FOUR THINGS ABOUT ROBERT CAPA
Robert Capa was war photographer/photojournalist who covered five wars (1. the Spanish Civil War, 2. the Second Sino-Japanese War, 3. World War II, 4. the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and 5. the First Indochina War).
In 1947, Capa was awarded the Medal of Freedom Citation for his work recording World War II.
Robert Capa was one of the founding members of Magnum Photos in 1947. Over the years, Magnum has developed a reputation for excellence. It is no small fete to become a member, and has stood the test of time.
Capa’s friends/colleagues included Ernest Hemingway, Irwin Shaw, John Huston, Henri Cartier-Bresson… In addition to accompanying Ernest Hemingway to photograph the Spanish Civil War, he also traveled with his friend, John Steinbeck to collaborate on the book, A Russian Journal. I remember seeing some information about this when I visited he Steinbeck Museum, but, truthfully, I was focused on getting to Rocinante (the camper truck Steinbeck traveled in and chronicled in Travels with Charley). Now, I have another good reason to return.
I hope you will watch The Mexican Suitcase. After you give it a watch, remember to come back here and let me know what you think.