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lucas "jump in the river"
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Bach:The Sacred Cantatas [Bach Collegium Japan; Hana Blazková; Yukari Nonoshita; Carolyn Sampson; Robin Blaze, Masaaki Suzuki] [BIS: BIS9055]
Bach:The Sacred Cantatas [Bach Collegium Japan; Hana Blazková; Yukari Nonoshita; Carolyn Sampson; Robin Blaze, Masaaki Suzuki] [BIS: BIS9055]
Price: £203.15

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in the Box, 1 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is mainly about the box set itself, not the performances. I am uploading photos.

The box set is not as I expected. The way I see it : I have here excellent recordings of the greatest music which, sadly, has a poor presentation.

It's a heavy but small box with cds in slipcases. The box's dimensions are 13 cm height x 16 cm width x 13 cm depth ( about 5.1 x 6.2 x 5.1 inches ).
The cds are color coded and are encased in simple slips. The color coding is quite handy and it is the one thing that I liked about the presentation of this set.

There are two booklets. The first one has a short introduction to the set and a track list .

The second booklet has Cantata's texts in German and their translation to English. The fonts in the second booklet are tiny. I didn’t like the translations as they lack the poetic style of translations in Koopman’s cds, for example.

There is a note about the sound that I will reproduce here:
"The music on BIS's hybrid SACDs can be played back in stereo (CD and SACD) as well as in 5.0 Surround sound (SACD). Our surround sound recordings aim to reproduce the natural sound in a concert venue as faithfully as possible, using the newest technology. In order to do so, all five channels are recorded using the full frequency range, with no separate bass channel added: a so called 5.0 configuration. If your sub-woofer is switched on, however, most systems will automatically feed the bass signal coming from the other channels into it. In the case of systems with limited bass reproduction, this may be of benefit to your listening experience. “

Well, I have just a simple cd player. I compared the sound of some cds from this set with cds from Gardiner and Koopman.
How can I put that? The sound of Suzuki’s cds clearly “filled the room” more than Gardiner and Koopman’s . It really is a beautiful, beautiful sound!

They recorded all cantatas but one in a chapel that was built in the 1980s specifically for the purpose of recording music.

I guess that the better your sound system the more you will be able to notice the differences between the quality of sound of this set and other sets. if you have one of those state of the art cd players then you will be able to really hear the technical excellence of Suzuki's recordings on SACDs .

I pre ordered this set and was wondering if I should go ahead with the order or cancel it. I am just an ordinary listener so I asked myself: Do I need another Cantatas?

I thought: “No, I don’t ”. But, a few days ago, I watched a short interview with Suzuki, recorded in 2000, where he says that “… In these 15 years, every time we perform Bach…(He) is coming closer and closer to me…He must have been a very energetic person. His energy must have been used to be consistent and also to
make something very perfect or integrated. So I feel very strong such energy. “

It was fascinating to watch that Japanese man, with long white hair, talking so passionately about Bach. So I decided to say “yes” to Suzuki’s extraordinary, magnificent project and his deep love for Bach.

Bach is so well known today and there are so many different sets with cantatas that some customers might be surprised to know that it wasn’t always like that. The sacred cantatas, according to what I read, were neglected for a long time and their revival started practically only after the second world war, when Harnoncourt and many others broke the time barrier around Bach’s cantatas.

And then came Suzuki, who broke the geographical barrier around Bach’s sacred cantatas and recorded them in Japan ! I think the whole thing about his project is truly fascinating.

Suzuki writes about the cantatas, in the introductory booklet, that " can not realize this music without an understanding of its purely technical and musicological side. Having said this,however, what is most important in infusing a Bach cantata score with real life in performance is a deep insight into the fundamental religious message each work carries".

I believe that this insight contributed immensely to the success of Suzuki's project on Bach's cantatas. It is not only the music but also the spirituality of Bach's cantatas that breaks barriers and makes Bach's voice stronger today, in a century so different from his time, than during Bach's own life time.

It is unfortunate that the presentation of the box set doesn’t reflect the grandeur of Suzuki’s project, especially considering the price of this set. But "all's well that ends well"…This is what I learned after listening to the beautiful sound of some of this set's cds .

This is probably my last review as I have several excellent reasons to not write reviews anymore. Bach's music makes me think of mesmeric skies so I prefer to end my participation on Amazon with a five stars review.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2016 4:20 PM BST

Zoo - Season 1
Zoo - Season 1
Dvd ~ James Wolk

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The king of the jungle sniffs at the air", 19 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Zoo - Season 1 (DVD)
Paragraph added on 18 april . Please note that this review is about the Australian release. I just noticed that Amazon placed my review on the UK release as well. I Extra features and subtitles of the Australian release are likely to be different from the UK release.

The dvd has subtitles in English, Dutch and Scandinavian languages. Image and sound, as usual in new tv series, is very good. The dvd is from Australia but you can play it on any standard European dvd players.
Camerawork is sober. No shaky cameras here. This information is for customers who don't like the trend of shaky cameras on films and tv series.

The series is based on a book by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. The title of this review is from the book. Apparently, the book is very different from the tv series but James Patterson is very happy with the series, as he says himself in the extra features.

I found the story quite exciting and watched the first episodes in a row. Next day I watched more episodes in a row, one after another. In the end, I watched the 13 episodes of season one in two days...

But, exciting and entertaining as "Zoo" is, it's also a bit silly and teenagerish ( I guess this word doesn't exist but I think its meaning is clear enough) and some of the actors, especially a French agent, are weak and unconvincing. The core of the story is also unconvincing, implausible, but it is highly enjoyable and, among new tv series, is a unique story: Animals rebelling against human beings. Then again, the scenes with animals look very real, very convincing. The action, not the idea behind it.

Anyway, I just relaxed and embarked on the fantasy of "Zoo", without trying to make much sense of the whole thing.

One of the good things about this series is that you do travel. The action, which is intense and non stop, happens in different parts of Africa, different parts of the US, different parts of Europe, Brazil, Japan...

I learned some interesting stuff about animals, besides seeing some beautiful animals and landscapes. On that, I first thought that a blu ray would be a better option for this series but not really. Images, many times, look too crispy but in a weird way. A blu ray will probably exacerbate that look.

It is a region 4 disc and, as I have a multi region player which, normally plays discs from different regions automatically I had to check the disc in my computer to see if it would play in UK standard players. It does.

Do watch the extra features. You will get lots of interesting information there and some of the information might surprise you.

They cover everything on the extra features. There are a few different making off. One of them, for example, shows how they worked with animals . It is interesting to know that they used real animals for about 75% of the scenes but normally combining those images with special effects. Only 25% of the animals are computer graphic generated. There are interviews will all main actors ( the only one I knew from before is a guy from "Mad Men" but he appeared in just a few episodes of "Mad Men", if I remember right), an interview with James Patterson, interview with producers etc.

I don't know if this series will have "legs" for a second season but they will do it anyway. For now, I am happy with the thrilling atmosphere of season one.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2016 3:05 AM BST

Dag Season 1 [DVD]
Dag Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Atle Antonsen
Price: £11.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The hardest metal, 16 Mar. 2016
This review is from: Dag Season 1 [DVD] (DVD)
This is the most irreverent comedy I’ve seen. It goes far beyond, in that sense, than “Arrested Development” (seasons 1, 2 and 3.) for example.

“Dag” is a diamond of a comedy. Its humour is so unexpected, so intelligent ! The series is on the same line of comedies such as "Seinfeld", "Arrested Development" and "30 Rock" although it takes irreverence far beyond those American series.

It is so iconoclastic, at moments, that gives to the series a hurricane of fresh air when compared with other comedies which are more and more tamed by political correctness and fear. You will see wildly funny jokes in this series, especially in season 2, that you will never ever watch on a BBC programme.

The humour, a few times, is vulgar but the vulgarity is never gratuitous. It is a very dark humour that might upset many people. One thing, about a dog, is really objectionable but I rather have that stupid joke than censorship.

This series, as I see it, is about being an individual in a society where you are expected to be part of a couple, part of a group and so on and so forth. Dag, in a way, is the anti "Friends" (Mind you, I have nothing against "Friends" and watched the whole series). I guess I could also say that "Dag" is the anti Facebook. I guess.

The only thing I didn’t like about this dvd is that the subtitles, many times, are very fast, if this is the right word to describe the issue.
I am a fast reader and watch films and tv series with subtitles all the time, without problems, but I really had to run in order to read the subtitles in this series and, sometimes, missed a thing or two.

The actors speak too fast and speak a lot so maybe there is no time for longer subtitles but I noticed, for example, that sometimes subtitles with only one word stay on the screen the same time used for subtitles with six or seven words.
So it could be, I suspect , a matter of short attention span. The subtitles were treated not as texts to be read but as if they were those three seconds images you see in some films and tv series nowadays.

The quality of images and camerawork is excellent. The camerawork is sober or, to use one of the meanings of the word as listed on dictionary dot com, it is “free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration”. No funny business here and none of those shaky images you will see in some comedies. So, if you don’t like comedies where the camera keeps shaking for no good reason then be assured that you won’t have that in “Dag”.

You will have two discs with ten episodes of about 20 minutes each.

Season two, already available on Amazon UK, has Rolf Lassgård, the first Wallander, playing a very funny guru/therapist. Who would imagine that?

Dag: Season 2 [DVD]
Dag: Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Atle Antonsen
Price: £17.07

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “If a million people want to be like everybody else..., 16 Mar. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dag: Season 2 [DVD] (DVD)
This is the most irreverent comedy I’ve seen. It goes far beyond, in that sense, than “Arrested Development” (seasons 1, 2 and 3.) for example.

“Dag” is a diamond of a comedy. Its humour is so unexpected, so intelligent !

It is iconoclastic, at moments, and that gives to the series a hurricane of fresh air when compared with other comedies which are more and more tamed by political correctness and fear.

The humour, a few times, is vulgar but the vulgarity is never gratuitous. It is a very dark humour that might upset many people.

Season one was more anarchic and funnier. Season two is a little more well behaved and is more philosophical . I think that the romance between Dag and Eva is a bit of a put off in the story . Then again, it is a reference, a counterpoint to the rest of the story and shows what I think it’s the core of this series: The challenges of being an individual in a mass society where you are expected to be part of a couple and so on and so forth. Dag, I would say, is the anti "Friends" (Mind you, I have nothing against "Friends" and watched the whole series).

One thing that looks weird in season two is to see that the main actress dropped good 20 kilos from season one to season two and look skinny in “flash backs” of season one showing her pregnant when, in season one, she looked very different from how she looks now. I watched season two just a couple of days after having watched season one and you just can’t ignore the difference and the lack of continuity. It would be better if they had skipped those “fake” flash backs.

It is surprising to see Rolf Lassgård, the first Wallander, playing a no nonsense guru/therapist in this second season. His lines are excellent and he is rather funny. He is really good in the role. When he talks to Dag you can see how his eyes are smiling. It is a very different look from his time as Wallander.

The quality of images and camerawork is excellent. The camerawork is sober or, to use one of the meanings of the word as listed on dictionary dot com, it is “free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration”. No funny business here and none of those shaky images you will see in some comedies. So, if you don’t like comedies where the camera keeps shaking for no good reason then be assured that you won’t have that in “Dag”.

You will have two discs with ten episodes of about 20 minutes each, just as it was in season one.( Sometimes a second season has more episodes. Unfortunately, it didn't happen here)

Dag goes on to seasons 3 and 4. I tried to find season 3 in other sites but it seems that Dag on dvd with English subtitles is exclusive to the UK. I just can't wait for Arrow to release seasons 3 and 4 of "Dag".

The title of this review is from an excellent dialogue between Dag and Ernst , the guru/therapist played by Rolf Lassgård. Ernst says that “If a million people want to be like everybody else then the sum of their points of view is still just one”.

Atlas Shrugged by Rand, Ayn (1999) Paperback
Atlas Shrugged by Rand, Ayn (1999) Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars The best edition of Atlas Shrugged, 5 Mar. 2016
This review is about the physical book itself, not its content. It is not about liking or disliking this polemic book.

There are a few different editions of this book and this one, from all the books I've seen, is by far the best edition. It has a far better presentation than Penguin's editions that you will find in bookshops, for example. That said, Plume is published by Penguin Group...

The book is 23 cm x 15 cm or, roughly, 9 in x 6 in . It is larger than those Penguin copies already mentioned. The book has a nice feeling about it, pages are of a nice off white colour easy on the eyes, the font is of good size. The book has 1170 pages. It's brochure, not hard cover.

This book has the introduction to its 35th anniversary, written by Leonard Peikoff in 1991. The book is from 1999.

Read a book shouldn't be a physical task but this is what you will get if you buy one of those Penguin editions available in bookshops: Small fonts squeezed along pages that you have to force open in order to read the end or beginning of lines.

If you are interested in reading "Atlas Shrugged" then this book here is, as far as I know, the best edition to buy.

P.S. You can buy a new copy of this book for £16.85, including shipping, from Amazon US. ( prices on 08 march 2016)

August Sander: People of the 20th Century
August Sander: People of the 20th Century
by August Sander
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £90.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Schirmer/Mosel, for publishing such a magnificent book!, 29 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is a presentation, in a single volume, of the seven volume edition published in 2002. It includes all the original photos and most of the texts of the 2002 edition, now out of print.

The book is solid and heavy. The fonts are of good size and to read the text is not a task.

The book is divided in seven parts and has 619 duotone plates. I didn’t like the printing quality of some reproductions but they are an exception. The printing quality is , in general, excellent when not superb.

Jean-Luc Differdange "based on August Sander's original glass negative plates, produced expert, precision prints by hand and performed the elaborate retouching".

The size of the plates varies but they are mainly large and occupy the whole page. There is one photo per page so you have one photo facing each other, unlike the 2002 edition had one photo facing a blank page, what seems much better to me. The photos are from 1892 to 1954 but most photos are from the time of the Weimar republic. (1918 to 1933).

All photos are portraits divided in the following groups:
1 The Farmer
1 The Skilled Tradesman
3 The Woman
4 Classes and Professions
5 The Artists
6 The City
7 The Last People

Each group of plates has a short introductory text. The groups are preceded by 12 plates called "Portfolio of Archetypes". Here, the plates are on their own, facing a blank page.

The book has two very good and informative introductory texts, both of them worth reading. One is "preliminary remarks", by Gabriele Conrath-Scholl. The second one, written by Gabriele Conrath-Scholl and Susanne Lange, is a 20 pages text about the development of the book's concept.

August Sander worked in iron mines when he was a teenager.

He learned photography whilst doing his military service and then went on to become a professional photographer. He had this idea of publishing a book with portraits of German people from all backgrounds. He published a first book related to the project, “Faces of Our Time”,
in 1929. The book was supposed to be a preliminary to the complete project, “People of the 20th Century”.

“The distribution of ‘Faces of Our Time’ had to cease in 1936. The book was confiscated and the printing plates destroyed. “ The reasons for that are not clear but it is likely that Sander’s portraits were not compatible with the Nazi ideology. To think that so many people died fighting authoritarian regimes such as Nazism and today narrow minded and arrogant students (who live in a society of “plenty”) are trying very hard to destroy the freedom of speech in universities.

Sander’s first born son, who was also a photographer, spent ten years in prison during the Nazi regime and finally died in prison of untreated appendicitis.
Adding to that tragedy, Sander lost 25 to 30 thousand negatives to a fire in 1946. He didn’t live to see his project published. Apparently, he never felt his project was ready to be published.

It was another one of his sons who went ahead with the project, first published as book in 2002. It is my guess that the seven volumes edition is even better than this one volume book because the photos stand alone, facing a blank page. Besides, the handling of the volumes will be much easier than the handling of this heavy, bulky book. But I don’t know how the printing of that edition is. You can still buy the 2002 edition, if you are willing to spend something around £400.

I am very happy with this one volume edition. Thank you, Schirmer/Mosel, for publishing such a magnificent book!

Roman Vishniac Rediscovered
Roman Vishniac Rediscovered
by Maya Benton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £39.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Even a peaceful landscape can lead to a concentration camp”, 28 Feb. 2016
This book is some sort of encyclopaedia about the master photographer Roman Vishniac. He was born in Russia, in 1897, to a wealthy Jewish family. He grew up in Moscow and, according to this book, received his first camera ( and microscope) when he was only seven years old !

He studied biology in Moscow and emigrated to Berlin in 1920, after the Bolshevik revolution.
In Berlin he took street photographs but continued his researches and experiments (which he started when he was seven years old…) on science and photo microscopy.

He bought the very first model of 35 mm Leica camera produced, in 1925. He also bought a “high end twin lens reflex camera, the Rolleiflex” in 1929, the year when the camera was introduced in the market.

Vishniac recorded the Jewish culture and daily life in Eastern Europe between the two world wars. He and his family fled to New York in 1940 where he worked as a portrait and freelance photographer.

Life magazine published, in 1951, its first story with Vishniac’s colour photo microscopy.
He continued his long photographic career, now doing mainly scientific photographs, and lectured in universities .He died in 1990, at the age of 92.

He reminds me of Berenice Abbott. Not many photographers managed to be successful shooting both street photography and science photography. They both had a very high technical knowledge of photography.
Curiously, they both lived long lives and were born and died on similar times.

All that said, I bought this book at a bookshop because I was astounded by the superb quality of some printings. I especially like a photo of a very beautiful women walking in Berlin’s streets in 1935. She is turning around and the light on her is magnificent , if I can use this word in this way. I will try again: The light on that woman makes her look as if she was a glorious summer morning.

Yet, despite the stunning beauty of this photograph, if you look carefully you will see, in the background, a swastika flag on a storefront shop. Vishniac disguised many of his photos of the time so he wouldn’t be arrested. He would pretend to be shooting an ordinary photograph of people in the streets when he was actually recording the oppressive presence of the national socialism in Germany before the war.

Then again, in this case it could be just a coincidence as he did take many photos of people in the streets that were just that and many people would never notice the swastika in the photo. I only noticed it because I already knew that he disguised the purpose of his photographs. Even so, I didn’t see the swastika at first. Or at second…

Many people would never notice the swastika in the background but it might be the central subject of the photo, to show the new political order in Germany and all the horrors that had already started by then. The photo is likely to be from 1935, considering the poster of the film “Familie Schimek “ , a 1935 comedy with Hans Moser, a famous comedian in Germany.

Vishniac took many pictures of his daughter in the streets, for example, but he was actually taking pictures of the background which had images of the new regime.

The quality of some of the large plates in this book is so good that I felt as if I was looking original photos at a museum. But be aware that this is not really a photobook with lots of plates and little text. This book is a comprehensive study of Visniac’s career and it has about 25 texts by different authors. The texts focus more on his recording of the Jewish culture between the two world wars although most of his career was devoted to scientific photography. The social and historical importance of his photographs of the Jewish people and their culture takes precedence here. It is an editorial decision, of course, and I guess it's only natural that the focus of the book is on the historical importance of Vishniac's photographs instead of his scientific work, which is also studied in this fantastic book.

The book follows, more or less, a chronological order. Most of the texts, because there are so many of them, use very small fonts. A silly thing to do. Better than keep writing here I will just upload photos so you can see how the book looks inside. It looks a little messy, with all the different texts, formats of photos etc. But it also looks absolutely amazing, with the superb quality of many large plates. And it has, of course, the historical importance of showing photos of a vanished world , to use the title of one of Vishniac’s books.

I took the title of this review from the film “Night and Fog”, directed by Alan Resnais.
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Don McCullin: The New Definitive Edition
Don McCullin: The New Definitive Edition
by Don McCullin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £32.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern Prometheus, 28 Feb. 2016
This definitive edition of Don McCullin’s work is an update of the 2002 edition and it was published to celebrate the photographer’s 80th birthday in october 2015. Well, happy birthday!

The 2002 edition has been expanded to include a few unpreviously published photographs from wars and also has a new chapter with photos from Africa .

The book is pretty similar to the 2002 edition. They are both of the same large size (there are versions of the 2002 edition which were published in a smaller size) and have the excellent introduction by Harold Evans, who was an editor of “The Sunday Times” when that publication was still a great and relevant newspaper.

It also has a short essay by Susan Sontag. I don’t really care about her writings on photography but, to be thorough, I did read her essay after having finished this review and am adding here that, contrary to my expectation, her text makes for essential reading and made me better appreciate this book.

The book has about three hundred plates, almost all of them large. The printing of the photos is excellent although, here and there, I must say that I do prefer many photos from the older edition because they seem to have a little bit more of depth and detail and look more “alive”. They are also pure black and white in the old edition whilst photos in this new edition are, many times, lightly brownish. On the other hand, the older edition has many photos that were too dark.

The only thing that I didn’t like about this book is that it has too many double spreads. I noticed that about ten photos which sat alone on the page in the first edition are now on double spread. It particularly called my attention the photo of the “American car belonging to a boxer”. This photo occupies one page only in the first edition but here is enlarged and double spread in two pages. Two things happened because of that : The photos is grainier and has less resolution than the smaller photo. The second thing is that the spine of the book breaks the nice flow of lines of the photograph.

I really don’t get this idea of double spreads. They are supposed to show you more, as the photos are larger , but most of the time you actually see less because what gets lost in the folding of the book and also because of the break of the flow of the image.

A double spread is never as good as a one page photo. That’s what I think, anyway.

But, fortunately, double spreads in this book are okay, as long as they are not in the beginning or end of the book, and are far away from being as bad as in Steidl’s facsimile of “The Decisive Moment” , for example, because this book opens flat at 180 degrees so, unless you are at the beginning or at the end of the book, you can actually see the double spread photos in their entirety.

One reason for that is that the binding is very strong and the book was very well designed. You really can open the book flat, as if it was one of those old Life magazines, without damaging it.

Talking about the design, they did a very clever and elegant job with the cover. If you remove the dust cover you don’t see a plain dark cover as it is usually the case. You have the photograph of the shell shocked marine printed on the front cover and a photo of Don McCullin printed on the back cover (see photos). These covers are exclusive to this edition. They did something similar on the cover of McCullin’s updated biography, “Unreasonable Behaviour”.

I also really like the square format of the book. It looks good. It looks right.

In addition, the square format makes for a stronger book and helps with the opening of the book at 180 degrees, what allows the double spread photos to “breath”. It is something like sumo wrestlers or judokas keeping their legs wide apart in order to hold firmly on to the floor.

The book has an editorial note explaining what this new edition is about. It is argued there that McCullin is an artist and it is false to say that he is a war photographer. Well, he was a photojournalist who covered several wars and there is nothing lesser about being a war photographer.

Some academics look at a photograph of Walker Evans showing a person living in poverty in the 1930s or some other social issue and say that it’s photography at its highest level but the same academics would normally “reduce” to “war photography”, for example, a photo of small children, babies and old women near the ruins of their homes in Vietnam. Homes which had just been destroyed by US phantom bombers. Apart, maybe, from famine, their situation is the extreme of misery and poverty.

It is a photograph that shows a social matter more relevant and crucial than any photos taken during the American depression. This photo I am talking about, unfortunately not included in this book, is Don McCullin’s photo that shocked me more despite so many of his other photographs showing far more gruesome images.

But the photographer himself doesn’t like to be called a war photographer or an artist. He is a photographer. There is no need to say anything more than that.

I bought this book at Waterstones. I paid more than I would pay if I had bought it online. I was trying to do my bit for the survival of bookshops in the high street. The book was on the shelf under the title “photography", sharing space with books of all other sorts of photography: Fashion, nature, modern photography (which, most of the time, is 90% photoshop and 10% genuine photography as I see it) etc. The nearest shelf was “art”. It sounds good enough to me. Photography is not less than art but it might not be exactly art.

But, in the end, it’s all just semantics. As Gombrich said, "There is no such thing as art. There are only artists”. In this sense, I would call McCullin an artist but I do prefer to call him a photographer, the best photographer alive as far as I am concerned.

Don McCullin, as I see him, is a modern bound Prometheus. He is a titan. He didn’t steal the fire from the Gods but he went to hell, many times, and came back, many times. He couldn’t save people in the war. He couldn’t help them. But he brought photographs to show us all the horrific things people do to other people. So we know. So we can do something about it. Or at least try.

Don McCullin risked his life so many times and went through many adversities and suffering so we could see what he saw.
Thank you.

The photographer said in an interview to Sandro Parmiggiani, published in a Skira book, that ( he was talking specifically about children dying in Biafra) : “ …despite all of my success in photography, I am pulling behind me chains you will find on a prisoner. I am not free…”

That interview dates back four or five years. One can only hope that Somerset’s landscapes are helping to heal some of this extraordinary man’s wounds.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 1, 2016 10:16 AM GMT

Shaped By War
Shaped By War
by Donald McCullin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “I wake up in the morning and see the deer under my apple trees”, 28 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Shaped By War (Hardcover)
This book is an illustrated autobiography of Don McCullin.

The book has photos of documents and personal mementos, covers of magazines as well as photos of conflicts covered by Don McCullin, which are the core of the illustrations. Many photos are in colour, an unusual thing to find in McCullin’s books.

This is not a photobook per se such as “Don McCullin”, the new definitive edition published by Jonathan Cape (Ransom House/Penguin) in 2015 (ISBN 978-1910702017), for example .

The photos of old magazines’ covers look just like that: Photos on old magazines. But the book also has several large plates and the quality, many times, look better to my eyes than photos in the definitive edition mentioned before as I prefer the sharpness and balanced light of the photos in this book to photos printed, on purpose, darker than the original negative. I understand that the darker printing seems to be a preference of the photographer but that doesn’t that mean that I have to like them better than other reproductions, printed in a different way, that I’ve seen.

The narrative is absorbing and I read the book in three days. Whenever I had the time I opened this book and went through its text and illustrations. I read “Unreasonable Behaviour” but that was over ten years ago and I don’t remember much of it apart from the general idea of seeing a young man going from a parochial view of the world to a cosmopolitan one. I do remember that “Unreasonable Behaviour”, unlike “Shaped by War” , had lots of references to the photographer’s personal life.

“Shaped by War”, apart from the first chapter, focus mainly on the photographer’s work whilst covering wars and other tragedies.

This is a really excellent book. The only hiccup, let’s say, in the book is that at some point the text goes half page about a photograph taken in West Hartlepool in 1963 and how the photograph was one of best pictures Don McCullin ever took but the photo is not on the book. I do have the photo in other books and you can easily find the photo on the internet.

I think that Don McCullin is the best photographer alive. I also have a great admiration for the man, his values, his attempt to seek some sort of personal redemption after all the horrors he witnessed. Don McCullin lives in Somerset, surrounded by nature.

He says at the end of this book that “ I don’t go fishing anymore…It’s fantastic to watch trout move from side to side across the river. It’s magical. It’s like a ballet. There’s no need to kill a trout that is too small for the plate. I don’t kill anything here. That’s why I bought the land on the other side of the river. Somebody wanted to buy it to stalk the deer. I won’t allow them to shoot on my land. I wake up in the morning and see the deer under my apple trees, about five hundred yards away, and I couldn’t be happier. “

Don McCullin: The Impossible Peace: From War Photographs to Landscapes, 1958-2011
Don McCullin: The Impossible Peace: From War Photographs to Landscapes, 1958-2011
by Robert Pledge
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profession: Photographer, 28 Feb. 2016
Profession: Photographer.

This book accompanied an exhibition of Don McCullin’s photographs in Italy a few years ago. It was edited by Sandro Parmiggiani, who introduces the book and then conducts an insightful interview with the master photographer.

The first text is in Italian. The second text is in English.

Then you have a short anthology of interviews and texts in their original languages: French, English and Italian. No translations here . I wonder why they did that. The excellent text of Harold Evans and the short text of Susan Sontag about Don McCullin are also here.

The book has about 200 plates, most of them large and most of them of good quality. It has photos of England, wars, and not war related photos of India, Africa and Syria.

What I like more about this Skira publication is that it has some of the best reproductions of Don McCullin’s work that I’ve seen. Bright, clean and crisp photos that are closer to photojournalism than the more usual darker photos one sees in McCullin’s books. One good example is a photo about the construction of Berlin’s wall.

The photos have legends in Italian and in English. At the end of the book you will find a detailed chronology and also a bibliography.
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