by Piotr Zalewski. Originally published by our partner site, World Policy Blog.
[The following post introduces the photo essay beneath it.]
BUDAPEST – Remnants of the past. I always look for them, especially in Central Europe. How else to stay stimulated in the land I’ve called home for most of the past 17 years?
Thanks to a film adaptation that became a canonical classic, the Japanese fiction writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa is best remembered for the stories “In a Grove” and “Rashomon,” on which filmmaker Akira Kurosawa based his film Rashomon (1950), taking the plot from the first story and the tone of existential despair from the second. Akutagawa was a short story writer who lived a troubled life and killed himself at the age of 35, and much of his fiction seems to reflect the darkness of his biography.
Taken by British photographer Arthur S. Mole and his American colleague John D. Thomas after World War I, these shots are part of Mole's "living photographs" collection. Used as a tool for patriotism during the war time, the photographers recreated American symbols by coordinating the movement of as many as 30,000 soldiers in an open field. To line up the soldiers, Mole and Thomas drew outlines of each symbol on the lenses of the cameras, truly a remarkable feat if you consider the type of technology available during that time.