“The Man Who Saw Too Much”
A Cinematic Tribute to Enrique Metinides
Even when he was still a youngster, Enrique Metinides was obsessed with images and would photograph car accidents and snap pictures at the local morgue in his hometown of Mexico City. Tabloids picked up his work soon started publishing his photos, and this is how he began his thirty-year career as a crime photographer. Metinides often captures not only gruesome scenes of human tragedy but also the curious reactions of onlookers. Filmmaker Trisha Ziff explores our morbid fascination with death and accidents by looking at Enrique Metinides. “The Man Who Saw Too Much” is a self-narrated tribute to the man who turned tragedy into art without exploitation and whose work has become an international art sensation. Director Ziff learns quickly that her subject of the documentary is a “meaningful daredevil.”
Today Metinides is in his 80s and looking back at his career, we see that his specialty was tragedy – car crashes, earthquakes, gas explosions, wrecks, murder, derailments and heartbreak. This documentary goes into his history that comes to us through interviews with him and with some members of the photography community in Mexico. The film is like a slideshow and it is both “relentless and calm”.
You have to look slowly and closely at the photographs to get the full impact. In one photo, for instance, we see a group of stone-faced and men and women wearing aprons who carry a stunned-looking girl down a flight of stairs. It takes a while to notice that her arm is lost up to the elbow inside of the meat grinder attached to it. And then we see what can only be described as ground meat coming out of the machine.
At times, and this is one of them, the film is shocking and it is easy to think that you have seen too much. The film offers a rich selection of Metinides’s work from the age of 9 when he took a picture of a morgue superintendent holding up the severed head of a murder victim.
Metinides tells his story in interviews and voice-overs and he shares how he first was drawn to looking at dead people while watching crime movies as a kid. He claims that he photographed 30 or 40 corpses each day of his career until his retirement in 1978, and it seems like we see every one of them.
Ziff’s film is not just a horror show or a catalog of grotesques. Rather it’s an essay on voyeurism, our fascination with mortality, fate, the fragility of the human body, and the nature of photography. The film explores the moral propriety of sharing images of horrific private tragedies with the public. We see that these photos are of someone’s worst memory of something they will try their whole lives to forget and will fail to do so.
The DVD features exclusive deleted scenes, the official trailer from THE film and subtitles in English.