In her senior honors thesis, Jackie Presutti examined two iconic war photographs, Robert Capa’s "Falling Soldier" from the Spanish Civil War, and Eddie Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning "Saigon Execution" (aka "General Loan Executing a Vietcong Suspect") from the Vietnam War.
My honors thesis was the hardest thing I've ever worked on, but by far the most rewarding. I was first exposed to Capa’s "Falling Soldier" during Professor Fran de Alba's course, “The Spanish Civil War: Memory, Text and Image." The photo captures the instant of death of a Republican soldier, and it became the most popular and iconic image of the war. I became most interested in the fact that technology permitted the capture of a moment that we can, in no other circumstance, stop and react to. In “Saigon Execution,” Adams again captures the instantaneous moment of death, and shows it to us not as a consequence but as a current action. Despite the ideological drive behind these two graphic and violent images, we, as humans, all react to them in the same way: we are forced to confront death itself and the finitude that makes us all human.