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- 03 -132015

“One hundred years of photography in the French Armed Forces”. Second episode. Albert Samama-Chikli, a pioneer of war cinema.

Signing up voluntarily in 1915, Albert Samama-Chikli became an operator for the army’s photographic section (SPA). Taken for documentary and image propaganda purposes, his shots — like those of all the operators in the section — were subject to strict official control. And yet the scenes he photographed reveal all the brutality of the war and the men’s submission to the elements.

MA BA 100ansphoto02 1 20150217 300x287 “One hundred years of photography in the French Armed Forces. Second episode. Albert Samama Chikli, a pioneer of war cinema.

MA BA 100ansphoto02 2 20150217 300x274 “One hundred years of photography in the French Armed Forces. Second episode. Albert Samama Chikli, a pioneer of war cinema.The earth, omnipresent, constitutes a daily enemy. In the photograph where French soldiers and their personal belongings blend into the soil of a conquered trench, the earth appears to be as much part of the precarious environment of the combatants as the fighting. Near Verdun, the remains of a French soldier, abandoned near a stagnant waterhole, illustrate the harshness of the war and the toughening of the fighters, who look indifferent to the fate of their comrade fallen in battle. The censorship committee prohibited suchMA BA 100ansphoto02 3 20150217 300x286 “One hundred years of photography in the French Armed Forces. Second episode. Albert Samama Chikli, a pioneer of war cinema. images from being circulated to avoid compromising the morale and the support of the nation. Samama-Chikli made several images around the corpse, showing that the photograph was not taken secretly and illustrating the complexity of controlling the shots taken on the ground. However, the photographer’s eye also knew how to capture lighter moments, such as the group of Portuguese soldiers apparently in a joyfully chaotic hurry to leave the boat that has brought them to Brest under the eye of a marine rifleman indifferent to their excitement.
MA BA 100ansphoto02 4 20150217 300x278 “One hundred years of photography in the French Armed Forces. Second episode. Albert Samama Chikli, a pioneer of war cinema.

Photo credits : @ ECPAD / Albert Samama-Chikli

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