Susan Morgan Cooper (Alexandra Cooper)

Susan Morgan Cooper (Alexandra Cooper)

Inside Media: The 'Unlikely Weapon' of Eddie Adams

November 14, 2009

Guest: Susan Morgan Cooper

By Elizabeth Balogun

It seems like fate brought together Susan Morgan Cooper and Cindy Lou Adkins, Eddie Adams's sister-in-law. Cooper called it "serendipity." She had a keen appreciation for war photography, especially those taken by Adams. When Cooper was asked to make a documentary about his life she jumped at the chance.

Cooper directed the documentary, "An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story." Adams, a photojournalist who died in 2004, is perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a Viet Cong prisoner being executed in the streets of Saigon.

Cooper did get a chance to meet and discuss the project with Adams before he died. She recalled watching with him a documentary, "Mickey," that he had made about a boy who was sick with progeria, a disease that causes rapid aging. "If we share anything it's a fascination with displaced and oppressed people," Cooper said regarding her bond with Adams.

Cooper was unable to film Adams before his death, and had to rely primarily on footage gathered previously, which presented challenges. Cooper talked about stumbling across the perfect footage of Adams speaking candidly as he strolled through New York City. She said she labeled the tape "Eddie from God" because finding that tape was an act of "divine intervention."

Cooper compared the process of making a documentary to sifting in a stream. "Making a documentary is sort of like panning for gold," she said. "You go down to the riverbed and bring up a bunch of mud. You sift and you pick out a piece of gold and you put it to the side — slowly you begin to string these pieces of gold together. And that's how you find your story."

The documentary features appearances from television journalists Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings, a score written by musician Kyle Eastwood, Clint Eastwood's son, and a narrative by "24" actor Kiefer Southerland.

"Inside Media" is produced by the Newseum and is open to Newseum visitors. Seating is on a space-available basis.

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