The ‘Player’ Slightly Out of Focus: New Exhibition of Robert Capa’s Photos in Budapest

A recently discovered exhibition about Robert Capa is next on the family agenda.  The exhibition, entitled ‘Player’, opened on 16 September in the Hungarian National Museum, and will be running until 12 January 2014.

The  exhibition is curated by Éva Fisli and showcases over 160 photographs to reflect on the many faces of Capa: photographer and war journalist, player and hero. We are definitely looking forward to the unique angle promised in the exhibition’s press release: the organisers have placed special emphasis on presenting many of the photos in their contemporary context. This is even more interesting when a photo was altered or cut for a magazine, or was published with different captions. Of course, there are pictures of Capa by others and a corner, where visitors are welcome to browse literature about his life and work.

The Museum bought  985 Capa photographs from the New York International Center of Photography in 2008, including the so-called master series. Some of these will be on loan in Capa exhibitions held in Rome (October) and Florence (February 2014). Naturally, there will be all kinds of events and even a film club in the Puskin cinema.

When Capa’s mentioned, films seem to be everywhere somehow. A very intriguing character indeed. I’ve been interested in Capa since reading Ingrid Bergman‘s autobiography, where she rather shyly reports her infatuation (not so much the affair that is said to have ended her marriage) with the crazy charming photographer who speaks eight languages, but has no permanent home and carries all his belongings in one single suitcase. Of course, everyone knows the famous photograph of the shot soldier from the Spanish Civil War, but Bergman’s memoirs were about a man, and a very interesting one to boot.

Robert Capa would be one hundred years old next month (hence the exhibition). He was born as Endre Ernő Friedmann on 22 October 1913 in Budapest. He famously covered five different wars: the Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II across Europe, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War. He documented the course of World War II in London, North Africa, Italy, the Battle of Normandy on Omaha Beach and the liberation of Paris. In 1947, Capa co-founded Magnum Photos in Paris with David “Chim” Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and William Vandivert.

Capa’s romantic figure has always been of interest in Hollywood, especially that Robert Capa himself had a number of brushes with the silver screen in his private life. After the tragic death of his fiancee, photographer Gerda Taro, Capa had an affair with the wife of British actor John Justin, followed by the aforementioned romance with Ingrid Bergman. whom he even followed to Hollywood.


The recent success of other Tinseltown romances, such as My Week With Marilyn with Michelle Williams; Lindsay Lohan and Grant Bowler playing Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Liz & Dick (imaginatively followed by Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West in Burton and Taylor) suggests that classic larger-than-life Hollywood romances are in vogue.

So there it is. Someone wrote it, someone bought it. The story was too good to be left unturned, so a couple of months ago it was announced that an adaptation of Chris Greenhalgh’s 2012 novel Seducing Ingrid Bergman is already in the pipeline. It is, however, not the first recently announced movie that will depict an episode in Capa’s love life. Tom Hiddleston (Loki in Thor) and Hayley Atwell will play Capa and Gerda Taro in Paul Andrew Williams’s Close Enough, which ends with Taro’s death in the Spanish Civil War.

According to YRF Entertainment, which bought the film rights and has a very verbose PR copywriter, the film will be an ‘epic, star-crossed romance of a real-life Casablanca: two legendary figures whom destiny brought together but fate would try to keep apart’. The film will portray ‘a sweeping love affair from Paris to Hollywood during World War II, the Cold War and Hollywood’s darkest hour of the McCarthy witch-hunts.’ While this all sounds really cheesy, producer Uday Chopra and screenwriter Amash Amel promise a ‘top actress’ to play Bergman. Some film blogs suggest Scarlett Johansson, while other conjectures include French actress Léa Seydoux (from Blue Is the Warmest Color) as well as Swedish star Noomi Rapace.

Of course, the more exciting question is who will play the player.

Go and see the exhibition and make your own educated guess.

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