The Man Who Saw Too Much

The Accident, The Image, The Obsession

is about a man obsessed with photographing the accident, who discovered that the fate of others was his own way of connecting to life.

A film about a compelling face with a Hitchcockian overtones: a face that is confronted time and time again by the camera in utter darkness; as if his look through lens will reveal some psychological inkling to what makes a person devote himself to documenting death.

The more we try to understand him and acknowledge our own compelling fascination with accidents, the more we realize that we too are being lured into the Metinides Gaze.

His passion for American and Mexican cinema shaped his way of seeing. He would skip school to go to the cinema where he would take photos off the screen, then emerge into the street and search for the reality of what he had just seen—always trying to connect both worlds. At first taking photographs of simple car accidents, Metinides soon graduated to the more macabre. From the age of nine, his images would be published daily on the front pages of Mexico City’s tabloids. A boy without a childhood, who as an adult began collecting toys, as if he has lived life in reverse. A child with they eye of an adult; a boy lost in an old man’s body.

Through the footsteps of Metinides and the work of contemporary tabloid photography we discover Mexico City, seen through a narrative of accidents and crime scenes. These layers of movement revolve around the still world of the photographer’s home that has become its own archive housing the memories of his past: collections of photographs, collections of albums categorizing disaster images from all over the world, collections of toy fire trucks and ambulances, and images of the Virgins’ of Guadalupe and frogs; his lucky charms that protected him during dangerous photographic assignments.

Metinides would come close to the scene of the accident in order to distance himself from it, to present it as a stage in which the main actors have just lost course of their lives, destiny having caught up with them. For this reason, for one photographic moment, the film extras who were never given any attention, have now become the main characters in Metinides’ photographs—so many of his images are filled with the faces of curious onlookers who enact that moment of fascination and curiosity, that we ourselves have whenever we pass by an accident or watch death on the screen, rubbernecking.

Through the prism of Metinides’ work, we experience a history of tabloid photography in Mexico today. Moving away from a nostalgia, perhaps, for his images—which despite their intensity reflect the drama of any metropolis—to the work of the tabloid photographers working today who expose themselves to a high level of risk in a country where violence is rampant.

Meanwhile Metinides’ work has moved from the street to the museum, from popular culture to a world of fine art and collectors, from Mexico to an international stage. Yet, he remains at home, preferring the safety and limitations of his neighborhood, revisiting his own past in his new work and his pleasure in retelling the stories of accidents whenever he gets a chance.