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Raising Old Glory Over Morro Castle (1899)

"Down goes the Spanish flag, and up floats the Stars and Stripes. Down falls the symbol of tyranny and oppression that has ruled in the new world for four hundred years, and up goes the ... See full summary »
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"Down goes the Spanish flag, and up floats the Stars and Stripes. Down falls the symbol of tyranny and oppression that has ruled in the new world for four hundred years, and up goes the Banner of Freedom. In the distance are the turrets and battlements of Morro, the last foothold of Spain in America." Written by Edison Catalog (1899)

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March 1899 (USA)  »

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The First War
31 October 2010 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

If modern warfare has been typified by the presence of the media as a front-line participant, then the Spanish-American War of 1898 bids fair to be the first modern war. True, Matthew Brady shot a lot of Civil War stills, and the Crimean War had a lot of newspaper coverage, but the Spanish-American War had war footage, so that the public had a sense that they were seeing events themselves, instead of being filtered through the sensibilities of journalists.

Or did they? Yes, here's a picture of a black flag being hauled down from the ramparts of Morro Castle, but take a close look and you'll see that's not a real castle, it's a picture of one. The whole thing was shot at the Vitagraph Studio, just as a lot of war scenes from this war and the Boer War the following year were shot in a field in New Jersey -- and naval battles were shot in bath tubs.

What we have here is a clever fake. Instead of the camera showing the truth twenty-four times a second, as the saying goes, it lies twenty-four times every second, Oh well. At least the American flag is real.


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