Saturday, 27 December 2008

pseud's corner

Endre Friedmann, who became Robert Capa, died when he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam on May 25, 1954. The film in his camera was printed, and that's what you see in the museum. His most famous picture is from Spain, of a dying Loyalist soldier falling from the impact of a bullet. There are those who say its a fake.

What is certainly a fake is the 'iconic' shot of a communist tank breaking through into the Presidential Palace in Saigon in 1975, which marked the end of the conflict. There was no photographer present at the time, and it had to be restaged a few weeks later. Apparently, too, the famous shot of American marines raising the flag on a Pacific island to mark the end of that conflict is a staged recreation, as is the shot of Russian soldiers raising the Red Flag over the ruined Reichstag in Berlin.

My Penguin copy of 'The Quiet American' is a bootlegged fake bought outside Hô Chi Minh's mausoleum in Hanoi. It is badly photocopied on cheap and insubstantial paper, and I have to use my Swiss army penknife to cut the pages. I love it all the more for its fakery.
Incidentally the Continental Hotel does still exist, and I've seen it without realising. It stands by the French Opera House, and now sports a row of luxury boutiques (Calvin Klein and the like) where once the terrasses thronged with expat journalists, wheeler-dealers and girls in flowing silk pants.

My unfake Knirps umbrella, bought in Zurich earlier this year, gave up the ghost in yesterday's tropical downpour. RIP.