Sunday, June 07, 2015

The "Magnificent Eleven"

A couple of the radio stations I worked for in the early 50's had a policy of telling announcers and DJs NOT to mention the word Television.  They were deathly afraid that TV was going to "Kill" radio.

Hollywood thought the same thing.

But all it did was change them.

Not so for Life magazine.  TV killed it.

But what a legacy!
Victory over Japan

Kent State

Learning of President Roosevelt's Death


Robert Capa
On June 6th 1944 Life Magazine photographer Robert Capa came ashore with the men of the 16th Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division.  He took 106 pictures in the first 2 hours of the invasion. He returned to London with the unprocessed rolls of film where, the story goes, a staff member at LIFE made a mistake in the darkroom and set the dryer too high and melted the emulsion on the negatives in three complete rolls and over half of a fourth.

Another of Capa's D-Day photos
One of Capa's D-day photos

Only eleven frames were recovered.

And all of those were blurry!

Frankly, that story sounds a little "fishy" to me.

Others a lot more knowledgeable than I have said the same thing.  However it's easy to forgive a man landing on a beach under such God awful circumstances  as those...for making any number of mistakes with his camera...that may have been the real cause of the blank footage.

Interestingly enough, he never said anything about it to the LIFE film lab involved.

Nevertheless, the frames that were exposed have become known as the "Magnificent Eleven"...and many believe that their "blurriness" adds to their dramatic impact.

There was also another LIFE magazine photographer who landed in the first wave of the invasion. His name was Bob Landry, but all of his film was lost....and even his shoes. 

The Fallen Soldier  by  Robert Capa
Whenever great "War photographers" are mentioned, Robert Capa's name is usually first.  He
redefined the definition by joining soldiers in the trenches and documenting their battles in close up detail.

His first war assignment was the Spanish Civil war during which he became well known for his photograph of a soldier at the exact moment he was killed.

Perhaps Capa's most memorable quote is:

"If your pictures are not good enough, it means that you are not close enough."

Capa was killed in 1954 while in Viet Nam covering  the first Indochina War, when he stepped on a land mine.

So much for being "close enough."

He was 40 years old.