blinded by a smile

Errol Morris’ (The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara) blog entry about his latest film, Standard Operating Procedure, focuses on one particular and central concern: Sabrina Harman’s smile, and the way we read the ‘cheesy’ smile. This is a rich piece of writing about photography, occlusion and truth.

“There are many photographs of al-Jamadi’s body, but it is the photograph of Harman with his body that stands out among them, the photograph of a pretty American girl who is alive and a battered Iraqi man who is dead. The photograph misdirects us. We become angry at Harman, rather than angry at the killer.

We see al-Jamadi’s body, but we don’t see the act that turned him from a human being into a corpse. We don’t understand what the photograph means, nor what it is about. ” – Morris

Read the blog entry.