View Full Version : Robert Frank speaking about "The Americans"
In the wake of a new edition of "The Americans" by Robert Frank, I thought I post this rare short clip where Robert Franks talks about "The Americans" and what he felt about America at that time.
Click on the image:
Oh man, now you have me wondering where I can get the whole thing! Frank is another of my favorites - thanks for the link - if you can find what this clip is extracted from I'd love to rent/buy it...
This clip is part of a documentary from early 80s called Robert Frank Fire in the east.
I would suggest you search the internet, especially 'those particular sites".
ack, i can only find it in VHS. I knew I shouldnt have gotten rid of it.
IT looks like he was in an audience and was asked a question.
Wouldn't everyone look violent and brutal compared to growing up in Switzerland?
lets see if I get this right. Robert Frank was born in Switzerland, so as a Jew he was lucky enough to escape the claws of Hitler, but underneath that exterior was a Switzerland that was the banking maiden for the Nazis, so like most of the FEW surviving Jews in Europe he came to America in 1947 to a country that accepted him and protected him from the hells of his former continent. And we, the USA, are the violent ones? Am I missing something here?
I don't think "The Americans" is an anti-American book, its basically about the sadness, anxiety and alienation which lies underneath 'the American dream'.
You can't compare the whole European population to Hitler and a few Swiss/American bankers.
Would you like to be painted with the same brush as your leader?
Pitxu, we face that problem now, here in the US. I'm afraid that many in the world look at most Americans in the same light they view Bush in.
I certainly hope that most folks realize that the vast majority of Americans are nothing like our president.
...Would you like to be painted with the same brush as your leader?
As an American living overseas, this happens all the time. I would not mind it so much, except that the people so anxious to judge me simply based on my nationality view themselves to be the enlightened progressive ones; the hypocrisy is practically criminal.
I have several American friends and know that it aint so, BUT regardless of that you elected him. Not once, but twice. Not trying to bash here, but I think the rest of the world was pretty astonished when he got elected the second time around. It will soon be over though.
Frankly, too many people, and I am not saying you, attempt to vindicate what was already a preexisting chauvinistic contempt for Americans by pointing to Bush and the war. In 2004, nearly 60 million Americans voted for John Kerry, and that does not include the millions of others who voted third party or did not vote, but opposed Bush. Is 60 million irrelevant when attempting to make generalizations about a country?
Like I said, what astonishes me is when certain educated Westerners who describe themselves as humanitarian and liberal have no moral compunction about openly excoriating 300 million people simply based on their nationality; 300 million people, by the way, who comprise one of the world's most diverse countries, and not just in terms of ethnicity but in also in terms of intellect, ethics, religion, philosophy, and politics---sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst; that's diversity.
Most foreign critics of Americans (as in the people or culture, not the government) that I have personally encountered do not even come close to fathoming this. They think they know America because they have seen a few US movies and TV shows, or read some maliciously inspired editorials in their newspapers about how materialistic and aloof to the world Americans are….yeah, some of us are, and some of us aren't…300 million people.
Yes, I am aware of the routine: Americans are loud, obnoxious, rude, arrogant, and opinionated. The problem is that from my end, these adjectives often describe my detractors…OK, they've got me on opinionated…
Anxiety "underlies" the lives of everyone on the planet. If it's not starvation and disease and oppression it's religious hysteria. Those anxieties aren't particularly American. "Alienation" is an intellectual affectation. Frank depicted an America that was suddenly swamped with media. The same thiing happened later on America's Indian reservations, and has recently happened in the backwashes of the Middle East and Asia.
Frank was a visual poet.....which means he noticed and portrayed simple things that most of us missed (what he noticed and portrayed has become photo cliche'). I don't think he knew fully what he was doing...few of us do.
"It amazes me," R Frank said. "It's a book of such simplicity, really. It doesn't really say anything. It's apolitical. There's nothing happening in these photos. People say they're full of hate. I never saw that. I never felt that. I just went out to the street corners and looked for interesting people. O.K., I looked for the extremes, but that's because the mediocre, the middle, it's bland and that bores me.” Quote from Vanity Fair article.
I thought nh3 posted a link about Frank. His own views on his book seem pretty well enunciated by him in the quote. What's interesting is how people "project" their concerns or issues onto this "blank sheet of paper"
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