Copyright Horst Faas

This famous picture is a portrait of an unknown American GI taken by Horst Faas the 18th of June 1965 at Phuc Vinh in South Vietnam. It was right in the middle of the Vietnam war. ( 1955-1975). The photographer took this  picture outdoor, in black and white,  in close up and it’s a high angle shot in order to let the emotion of the young man’s face hit the viewer. In the brightness of his eyes and in the purity of his skin we can see that he is about 20 years old. He’s got the same mysterious glance and smile as the Joconde. He looks right of the camera and smiles a bit, like he is trying to say something to the people looking to him. But the mouth stays closed, enduring the pressure of all horror he has seen during the war. The sentence « War is hell » on the helmet underlines this idea. He seems to know that death is near and he is sending his best glance to all the people that are going to see this portrait in his country. He was right about the impact the photograph was going to cause in the USA. The psychological message that this picture conveys about the horror of the war is  stronger than any pictures of dead soldiers because people can identify to this GI and think: “ Hey! I could’ve been him, my son could’ve…” That is why this kind of picture reversed the public opinion about the Vietnam war and made a lot of young persons protest against…  giving partly birth to the  Flower Power movement of the 60’s. This photo advocates the peace in Vietnam. It’s a masterpiece shot.

Copyright Ed Kashi/ VII photo

The second photo shows a Vietnamese little girl about nine. It’s also a high angle shot but this time it’s not a close up; the girl is not in the middle of the picture and her face is partially enlightened by a crossing light. She’s got a shifty look. Her face is distorted by the effect of the Orange Agent. This chemical weapon was use by the Americans in Vietnam, it was a powerful weedkiller used to force the Vietnamese to quit the forest. This defoliant was made by Monsanto  with dioxins and caused dramatic effects on the populations during the war and their children after. The photo was taken inside, in a green wall’s room, and the shades of the windows with bars gives us the impression of a jail enclosing the future of the girl. It’s rather terrible.

Each shot is about young people lost by the Vietnam war, one during the conflict, one after the war. Each photographer underlines the look in order to denounce the horror of the Vietnam War. Each photographer is a concerned witness.

Stern Maximilien, Mérou Isabelle, Bonillo Ton, Vertalier Marc, Terminale Section euro, Lycée François Arago, Perpignan 2011.


Horst Faas is a famous german war photographer. He began is career un 1951, shooting in Congo ( 60-62), Algreria (62), India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Israël, Angola. He won several prizes: the Pulitzer ( 1965, 1972), the Robert Capa Gold medal (1997), the Eric Salomon Price (2005).


Ed Kashi is an american photojournalist. A sensitive eye and an intimate relationship to his subjects are signatures of his work. Ed Kashi’s work have been published and exhibitated worldwide. Ed Kashi received the World Presse Photo 2011 for this shot.

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