Photograph Study Essays – The Vietnamese Napalm Girl

Preston, England
December 30, 2015 4:13pm CST
Take a famous, even iconic photograph many of you will know, or at least one you can locate easily in photography and history books. It’s the unforgettable image captured by Nick Ut, of Phan Thi Kim Phuc, a nine-year-old Vietnamese village girl, in Trang-Bang, running naked as she burns immediately after being caught in a napalm blast in 1972. I saw this photo on its release and it horrified me as the girl was just a year younger than me. Vietnam’s closing years were the first news stories to grab my attention, making real World politics interesting and often frightening to me. It’s a terrifying and shocking image – a war crime captured live on camera, and one committed by the ones we like to think of as the good guys. (Actually a South Vietnamese pilot firing on his own side, possibly by accident) This girl was clearly not a Vietcong soldier. Amazingly she survived, thanks largely to the photographer’s intervention, surgery and years of plastic surgery. She still tells her own remarkable brave story to this day. The image exposed the widespread use of napalm in the war and that the Americans were sharing it with other countries too. The photo shows how close the photographer was to the action here – that napalm splash could easily have caught him too. We also see how indiscriminate the fires were. There are several children running all round the agonized girl, and some are even behind her, but only she appears to be maimed by the flames. No one seems to notice her or run to her help – this is an everyone for themselves flight of panic – a human stampede in sheer terror, and who can blame them? We see the smoke of the main fire raging in the background too. Ut alone stands his ground to capture the photo, preserving the horror forever. Nick Ut deservedly won a Pulitzer Prize for this capture and now I’ve described his famous image here as one of my impressionistic studies. I will share the link to the image for those not familiar with it. It speaks more for itself than my words ever could. Arthur Chappell
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search No higher resolution available. TrangBang.jpg ?(400 × 263 pixels, file size: 46 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Summary[edit] Description Phan Th? Kim Phúc running down a road near Tr?ng Bàng, Vi
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3 responses
@Jessicalynnt (47879)
• Centralia, Missouri
1 Jan 16
I am glad the one taking the photo stopped to help
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
5 Jan 16
it was a very brave thing for him to do given he was in danger if a second attack came too
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@Inlemay (17163)
• South Africa
30 Dec 15
I remember this photo - it is world renowned - I know of another one similar from SA photographer - Kevin Carter , he also won the Pulitzer prize.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
30 Dec 15
such images are among our best reminders of the atrocities we inflict on our World - such images need to be seen
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@paigea (22675)
• Canada
31 Dec 15
I am certainly familiar with that photo too.
1 person likes this