For photojournalist William Eugene Smith (1918-1978) an image was a small sound, at best, “but sometimes, just sometimes, an image or a group of them draw our senses into consciousness.”
With this premise, he worked all his life and became one of the world’s most admired photojournalists after his work for the WWII magazine For Life and also an introduction to humanistic photography, which accentuates the human figure and captures great moments without staring, for the viewer, being distracted by anything secondary.
The defining moment in his life as a photographer will be the one we see in theaters starting today, with the movie Minamata photographerstarring the unrecognizable Johnny Depp as Smith.
In your legal dispute
The film premiered at the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, in February 2020, and was released in international markets. In the United States, it was released only in December 2021. According to Deadline, in July last year, director Andrew Levitas publicly protested that MGM was “burying” the tape due to Johnny Depp’s widely publicized off-screen problems. In August, the actor criticized the fact that it was not fired, saying it was worth watching, but that it was postponed because Hollywood was “boycotting it.”
All this before the trial begins (see box) that has put the entertainment world on alert in recent weeks.
For film critic Yennifer Uribe, the actor’s return to the screen is interesting, going beyond what is happening today on the stage, because “his performance is profound. If, before all this scandal, he was considered a great actor who built characters in a superb way, then his ability to lose track is confirmed To give space to the character.”
Having his personal life on people’s lips may be important when it comes to bringing audiences to the cinema, but in reality, the importance, says Uribe, should focus on the film and on Depp’s skill and talent to embody the character of such a photographer.
The movie is based on real events. When Smith traveled to southern Japan to secretly document mercury poisoning for coastal communities in the Shiranui Sea, a company for more than 35 years dumped its industrial waste, polluting the waters.
More than 3,000 people died from this fact and hundreds of children were born with severe deformities, genetic changes that still affect offspring today.
Smith’s photo essay on Minamata included a worldwide photograph that has become emblematic of the effects of such pollution: Tomoko and mother in the bathroom Translated into Spanish as “Tomoko Bath”. A picture showing environmental atrocities, and for experts, Smith’s most important work, one of the most important of the twentieth century.
For Johnny Depp this picture is “wonderful, honest and pure,” he said when the film’s US premiere was confirmed in December last year and before the scandal that surrounded it today.
Depp also told, in the Cine Colombia Distribución interview with EL COLOMBIANO, that at the age of 20 he remembers knowing the work of Smith, whom he described as a dedicated and passionate artist who “made a difference to future generations of journalists, photographers, and everyone who was inspired by his work to take risks like those that did it.”
“Professional problem solver. Subtly charming bacon buff. Gamer. Avid alcohol nerd. Music trailblazer.”