This year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath. One man made a singular impact on this American classic, photographer Horace Bristol, who took author John Steinbeck to the migrant labor camps where he documented the desperation of the Depression. Bristol was a pioneer of photojournalism, capturing image that have become icons of the 20th century. But then he vanished, and the photographs were thought to be lost. Toward the end of his life, Bristol worked with rock superstar Graham Nash and myself to restore his photographs and record his story.
Narrated by Graham Nash, the Compassionate Eye: Horace Bristol, Photojournalist, brings this giant of photography and his work to life.
Camera in hand, Horace Bristol chose stories that led him on a life of adventure and danger…journeying to Bali by outrigger canoe…attacked by anti-labor goon squads in California…reported dead in the Korean War…he captured history in the making. This pioneering photojournalist shot some of the most significant photographs of the 20th century, images that have become icons of our past. Horace was among the first contributors to Life magazine, photographing migrant labor camps in a series that became the basis for The Grapes of Wrath. He circled the globe in World War II with Edward Steichen’s Navy photography unit. He spent the postwar decade documenting the changing way of life in Japan and Asia, covering Emperor Hirohito, General MacArthur, Chiang Kai-Shek, Prince Sihanouk, and the wars in Korea. China, and Vietnam. His photographs countered the stereotypes of Asian culture perpetrated at the time.
When his wife committed suicide Bristol destroyed every print he could find. His photographs were lost for forty years. Incredibly, three footlockers containing over 3,000 of his negatives were discovered in 1990. Rock superstar Graham Nash, a photographer and collector himself, initiated the restoration of Bristol’s life’s work.
At an advanced age, Bristol was recognized as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. Filmmaker David Rabinovitch worked with Bristol near the end of his life to record his story and bring his photographs to the screen. THE COMPASSIONATE EYE reveals the incredible true story of HORACE BRISTOL: PHOTOJOURNALIST.