‘Napalm Girl’ by Nick Ut

'Napalm Girl' by Nick Ut (June 8, 1972)

‘Napalm Girl’ by Nick Ut (June 8, 1972)
From left, the children are Phan Thanh Tam, younger brother of Kim Phuc, who lost an eye, Phan Thanh Phouc, youngest brother of Kim Phuc, Kim Phuc, and Kim’s cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting.

I think the photograph ‘Napalm Girl’ by Nick Ut, taken June 8th 1972 is a really poweful photo because as well as it being an iconic photograph of the napalm bombings from the Vietnam war it also shows a lot more. As you can see in the photograph the soldiers don’t seem to care about what’s happened and in this uncropped version you can also see the soldier playing around with his camera rather than attending to the aid of the children.

the cropped version of 'Napalm Girl' by Nick Ut

the cropped version of ‘Napalm Girl’ by Nick Ut

This creates a whole new story to the photograph as before it was focused more on Kim Phuc, the naked girl. The focus seems a lot more on her as she is in the centre of the photo in the cropped version but looking at the original she’s off to the left a bit, this leaves the photograph having not much main focus. Because of this the viewer will take more time in reading the photograph and spot what is going on with the soldiers in the background and the soldier playing with his camera on the right hand side. Looking back at the soldiers in the background you can see that on soldier is looking off into the distance, one is staring at the ground and the others are looking directly forward with blank facial expressions, none of them are worried about the children at all.

Also with the photograph being cropped it adds another story of why the photographed got cropped, was it to get rid of the soldier playing with his camera, showing no care at all to the children or was it just to make Kim Phuc the centre of the photograph so that she stood out more? This photograph leaves a lot for the viewer to think about and tells many stories.

 

Kim Phuc visited by Nick Ut at her home in Trang Bang, Vietnam in 1973.

Another thing that interests me about this story is that Nick Ut went back to visit Kim Phuc at her home in 1973. Not all photographers would go back and visit a people in their photographs, some would just get the photograph that they needed and that would be it, for Nick Ut to go back and visit I think is inspirational as it shows that he cared about Kim Phuc and what happened to her. Although to her at the time, being the age she was she probably just thought he was just some photographer but now for him to come back and see how she is she would probably be grateful and be happy to see him and realise how much he cared.

” Ut, the 21-year-old Vietnamese photographer who took the picture, drove Phuc to a small hospital.

There, he was told the child was too far gone to help. But he flashed his American press badge, demanded that doctors treat the girl and left assured that she would not be forgotten.

‘I cried when I saw her running,’ said Ut, whose older brother was killed on assignment with the AP in the southern Mekong Delta. ‘If I don’t help her – if something happened and she died – I think I’d kill myself after that.’ “

Reading this article made me realise how much Nick Ut cared about the safety of Kim Phuc, taking her to the hospital, showing his badge and demanding that the doctors treated her and crying at the sight of her running the moment that he took the photo, as well as saying that he would kill himself if she were to die.

Another part of that article which I found interesting was:

” A couple of days after the image shocked the world, another journalist found out the little girl had somehow survived the attack. Christopher Wain, a correspondent for the British Independent Television Network who had given Phuc water from his canteen and drizzled it down her burning back at the scene, fought to have her transferred to the American-run Barsky unit. It was the only facility in Saigon equipped to deal with her severe injuries.

‘I had no idea where I was or what happened to me,’ she said. ‘I woke up and I was in the hospital with so much pain, and then the nurses were around me. I woke up with a terrible fear.’

Thirty percent of Phuc’s tiny body was scorched raw by third-degree burns, though her face somehow remained untouched. Over time, her melted flesh began to heal.

‘Every morning at 8 o’clock, the nurses put me in the burn bath to cut all my dead skin off,’ she said. ‘I just cried and when I could not stand it any longer, I just passed out.’

After multiple skin grafts and surgeries, Phuc was finally allowed to leave, 13 months after the bombing. She had seen Ut’s photo, which by then had won the Pulitzer Prize, but she was still unaware of its reach and power.

She just wanted to go home and be a child again.

 

I found this bit of the article interesting as it shows that it isn’t just Nick Ut that is looking out for Kim Phuc and making sure she is okay, the correspondent for the British Independent Television Network also made sure she was okay by giving her water and drizzling it down her burnt back at the scene of the horror back in 1972, as well as fighting to have her transferred to the only facility equipped to deal with her injuries.

This shows that unlike the soldiers who were there at the scene not caring at all, Nick Ut and Christopher Wain do care and have done all that they can for the safety of Kim Phuc. The ending to the article is also very powerful as reading it makes you picture what it was like at the hospital, the pain she went through and even how bad it was for the nurse at the hospital, it all adds to the upset of what happened. But then at the end it makes you feel happy as you know that Kim Phuc survived and was eventually able to leave the hospital.

“…Ut and a few other journalists sometimes visited her, but that stopped after northern communist forces seized control of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975, ending the war.”

This piece of the article also proves that Nick Ut and other people did care for her as they’d sometimes visit her, until 1975 when the northern communist forces had control of South Vietnam in 1975.

Carrying on with the article and reading the quote from Kim Phuc wasn’t nice to read as it’s very emotional and upsetting thinking about how she must of felt at the time and the fact that she wanted to die.

“My heart was exactly like a black coffee cup,’ she said. ‘I wished I died in that attack with my cousin, with my south Vietnamese soldiers. I wish I died at that time so I won’t suffer like that anymore … it was so hard for me to carry all that burden with that hatred, with that anger and bitterness.”

 

But the photo above the quote was nice to see, a photo of Kim Phuc’s wedding. I found this nice to read as it shows that even after the injuries that she had suffered and all the upset she is now married and happy, unlike how she was feeling when she wished that she was dead and how she was full of hatred, anger and bitterness.

Kim Phuc, top row second from right, and her husband Bui Huy Toan, top row right, with guests during their wedding day in Havana, Cuba.

Kim Phuc, top row second from right, and her husband Bui Huy Toan, top row right, with guests during their wedding day in Havana, Cuba.

And reading the rest of the article was very nice as it continues to tell how Kim Phuc’s life turned around and things were looking up and getting a lot better for her, it was also nice to see that she was able to be closer to her dreams by being able to study in Cuba as before she wasn’t able to study after being forced to quit medical school.

“One day, while visiting a library, Phuc found a Bible. For the first time, she started believing her life had a plan.

Then suddenly, once again, the photo that had given her unwanted fame brought opportunity.

She traveled to West Germany in 1982 for medical care with the help of a foreign journalist. Later, Vietnam’s prime minister, also touched by her story, made arrangements for her to study in Cuba.

She was finally free from the minders and reporters hounding her at home, but her life was far from normal. Ut, then working at the AP in Los Angeles, traveled to meet her in 1989, but they never had a moment alone. There was no way for him to know she desperately wanted his help again.

While at school, Phuc met a young Vietnamese man. She had never believed anyone would ever want her because of the ugly patchwork of scars that banded across her back and pitted her arm, but Bui Huy Toan seemed to love her more because of them.”

 

Kim Phuc embraces Nick Ut during a reunion in Cuba in 1989

Kim Phuc embraces Nick Ut during a reunion in Cuba in 1989

Also again in 1989 they meet up, this time in Cuba. I think this is special as it shows that he’s continued to stay in contact with her and meet her with her again after the horror happened, it shows how much he cares about Kim Phuc, as well as this it’s nice to see them both smiling and enjoying each other’s company as it shows that they’ve now built a friendship and she isn’t just that girl that was in the photograph.

 

Kim Phuc holds her son Thomas, 3, in their apartment in Toronto. Her husband, Bui Huy Toan is to the left.

Kim Phuc holds her son Thomas, 3, in their apartment in Toronto. Her husband, Bui Huy Toan is to the left.

Seeing this picture of Kim Phuc with her son was also nice to see as being married and also having a child shows how her life carried on being normal after everything that happened and after her wishing herself dead and all of the upset she went through.

 

Carrying on from the article about Kim Phuc getting married I found the ending of the article lovely as being married and being with someone who doesn’t care about her scars from the injuries must of made her really happy and as it says in the article, it means she was now free. The fact that she contacted Nick Ut to share the news I thought was also lovely as it shows that she feels as if she should tell him about her marriage, like you would to a family member when you’re getting married, I think this shows that she sees him as a family member, which shows how close the two have become. As well as this I think it’s great that the book was written in 1999 along with the documentary as that will show what it would of been like to live through all of the shock, horror and upset that she did and it’s nice to know that the book and documentary were both written and shown the way she wanted them to be told. The fact that Nick Ut calls Kim Phuc her daughter I think again shows the closeness of the two.

 

The two decided to marry in 1992 and honeymoon in Moscow. On the flight back to Cuba, the newlyweds defected during a refueling stop in Canada. She was free.

Phuc contacted Ut to share the news, and he encouraged her to tell her story to the world. But she was done giving interviews and posing for photos.

‘I have a husband and a new life and want to be normal like everyone else,’ she said.

The media eventually found Phuc living near Toronto, and she decided she needed to take control of her story. A book was written in 1999 and a documentary came out, at last the way she wanted it told.

She was asked to become a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to help victims of war. She and Ut have since reunited many times to tell their story, even traveling to London to meet the Queen.

‘Today, I’m so happy I helped Kim,’ said Ut, who still works for AP and recently returned to Trang Bang village. ‘I call her my daughter.’ “

 

 

Nick Ut, Kim Phuc and The Queen opening the new Wellcome Wing of London ‘s Science Museum, London 2000.

In 2000 Nick Ut and Kim Phuc opened the new Wellcome Wing of London’s Science Museum, this is nice to see as it shows how they kept in contact throughout all that’s happened and the fact that Kim Phuc was welcomed to open the museum which Nick Ut again shows the thought and care that people have for her, being able to attend the opening.

 

ap_nick_ut_Kim_phuc_2012_vietnam_thg_120606_wblog
Nick Ut and Kim Phuc, June 2012

Also again Nick Ut and Kim Phuc meeting up another time is special as it shows that he’s continued to stay in contact with her and meet her with her again 40 years after the horror happened I think is very thoughtful and shows how much he cares about Kim Phuc, as well as this it’s nice to see them both smiling and enjoying each other’s company as it shows that they’ve now built a friendship and she isn’t just that girl that was in the photograph.

Nick Ut with Kim Phuc at Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C

Nick Ut with Kim Phuc at Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C

I also found this in a different article which I thought I’d include as I thought Nick Ut and Kim Phuc visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was good to see as the Vietnam War is the place that they first met, as horrific as the situation was, and now they’re back remembering the Vietnam War and supporting the soldiers of that war by being at the memorial site. Smiling and having a nice time there also shows how the past is now behind them and they’re now happy and can move on from what’s happened, especially Kim Phuc.

 

sources:

Article and photographs: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2153091/Napalm-girl-photo-Vietnam-War-turns-40.htmlArticle: http://photothisandthat.co.uk/2012/08/18/nick-uts-iconic-napalm-girl-photo/

Cropped Photograph: http://artdaily.com/news/55855/Iconic–napalm-girl–photo-taken-by-the-Associated-Press–Huynh-Cong–Nick–Ut-turns-40-#.UvLhBrT4cg8

Last Article: http://photothisandthat.co.uk/2012/08/18/nick-uts-iconic-napalm-girl-photo/

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