No Power Without an Image

Icons Between Photography and Film

Libby Saxton

Ebook (ePub) i
Ebook (PDF) i

Explores the entwined histories of iconic photographs and film

  • Reviews the lives of seven legendary photographs through the lens of cinema, expanding understanding of these interlocking media
  • Presents new archival research into and close analysis of the double lives of four of these photographs as pieces of footage, enhancing knowledge of some of film history’s most haunting moments
  • Proposes the icon as a novel paradigm for thinking about the confluence of still and moving images and their relationship to history
  • Explores developments in technology and aesthetics that shaped the iconic image, enriching appreciation of its historical emergence

The first detailed study of what filmic images can tell us about iconic photographs, No Power Without an Image reveals the multifaceted connections between seven celebrated photographs of political struggles, taken between 1936 and 1968, and cinema in all its forms. Moving from the ‘paper cinema’ of magazines via newsreels and film journals, to documentary, fiction and experimental films, this fascinating book draws on original archival research and multidisciplinary icon theory to explore new ways of thinking about the confluence of still and moving images.

List of Illustrations


1. Paper, Water, Ice: The Falling Soldier

2. The Double Life of the Gestapo Informer

3. Apocalyptic Stillness: The Self-Immolators

4. The Face of the Crowd: Che

5. Film Frame, Film Still, Star Portrait: The Marianne of ’68

Epilogue. Protesting Women


A singularly important and rich intervention that explores the entwined media of film and photography as they shape some of the world’s most iconic photographs. The book is ambitious and assured in its international scope and scale, combining rigorous historical and archival research with powerful textual analysis. Still images move, and move us, the book argues, and the cinema is a motor force in this movement.

Guy Westwell, Queen Mary University of London

This book is a sophisticated and subtle discussion of the hitherto forgotten contexts of iconic photographs, which demonstrates the complex intertextuality of the historic photograph and the dangers inherent in isolating it from its place in visual culture.

Damian Sutton, University of Coventry
Libby Saxton is Reader in Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. She is author of Haunted Images: Film, Ethics, Testimony and the Holocaust (Wallflower, 2008), co-author of Film and Ethics: Foreclosed Encounters (Routledge, 2010) and co-editor of Holocaust Intersections: Genocide and Visual Culture at the New Millennium (Legenda: 2013). She is writing a book on iconic images, photography and cinema.

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