Monday, 19 September 2011

Tank Man

Author: Jeff Widener
Picture date: June 5, 1989

Picture depicts an unknown man who stopped a column of armoured tanks on the morning when Chinese military forces removed protesters from the Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. This man achieved widespread recognition in newspapers around the world and is also known as Unknown Rebel.

This photograph received worldwide recognition because it showed that an unarmed man with only shopping bags was able to stop armoured tanks. Video footage of the incident shows that the man jumped on the first tank and had a short conversation with tank driver. The picture brought hope that there may be a way for a non-violent in communist China.

On the day of the incident, four different photographers shot the scene, but Mr. Widener's photo was most used by newspapers. His version is tighter that other photographs and was made from a lower floor of the hotel, closest to the ground, and captured a face-to-face meeting between the lone man and the driver of the first tank. It was shot with Nikon FE2 camera by Mr. Widener who was injured and suffered from flu.

To this day, the identity and fate of the man in the picture remain unclear. A riveting documentary, The Tank Man, by PBS Frontline in 2006 explored his fate. Yet still no one knows for certain who he is or what exactly happened to him. The image is largely blocked on the Internet in China. Despite its iconic status and historical significance elsewhere, most young people there do not recognize the photograph.

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