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Review: An Unlikely Weapon

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The image in question: Saigon Execution, by Eddie Adams.

Most of the iconic images we see - the ones that define an era or change a social tide - come without much of a footnote at all. Unless it’s in your nature or your profession, there’s a good chance that Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz are about as deep as you’re willing to wade into the photo pool. But there’s also a good chance that all those other photographs you don’t have a name to put with, those real images from war or those celebrities or presidents out of their element and yet so comfortable...there’s a good chance Eddie Adams did those.

Or at least that’s what recent documentary An Unlikely Weapon would have you believe. And, truthfully, it’s not much of a stretch. Like stumbling on a Grand Unifying Theory or discovering that actor who’s been in EVERYTHING, it’s sort of eerie to discover the iconic images that Adams really did have his hands in. There’s the shot of Mother Teresa holding an infant, or the iconic Clint Eastwood with his back turned, pistol held quietly in hand. But there are other, darker images that Adams was inside or around the lens for; images that have spanned generations, shaped foreign policy, and haunted one man for his entire life.