W. Eugene Smith: Photography Made Difficult

W. Eugene Smith: Photography Made Difficult



The war in the South Pacific, a country doctor in Colorado, victims of industrial pollution in a Japanese village - all of these were captured in unforgettable photographs by the legendary W. Eugene Smith. No matter where, what, or whom he was shooting, Smith drove himself relentlessly to create evocative portraits that revealed the essence of his subjects in a way that touched the emotion and conscience of viewers. The life and work of this brilliant and complicated man, whose passion for social justice matched his desire to create photographs that were works of art, are explored in this film.

In addition to showcasing over 600 of Smith's stunning photos, the program includes a dramatic recreation in which actor Peter Riegert (Crossing Delancey, Local Hero) portrays Smith, both in his New York City loft and at the locations where he shot some of his major work. This device allows the photographer to speak for himself, with dialogue taken from his diaries and letters.

Interwoven through the documentary is archival film footage as well as interviews with Smith's family, friends and colleagues, including Aileen Smith, his second wife and collaborator; writer and art critic John Berger; writer Ben Maddow; photo historian William Johnson, who was Smith's archivist; Smith's biographer Jim Hughes, author of the McGraw-Hill book W. Eugene Smith: Shadow and Substance; UPI correspondent and friend Red Valens; and Ed Thompson, former managing editor of Life magazine. The wide range of music used in the film, from blues to jazz to classical, reflects the importance of music to Smith throughout his life.


Film Info

  • Actors: Peter Riegert
  • Directors: Gene Lasko
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2010
  • Run Time: 87 minutes