The execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém: Another Famous Photo is fake

vietna-execution-offical-photoWarning to readers: Below the fold are some gruesome photos of an alleged execution of a young Vietnamese boy in 1968, the famous Saigon Execution photo by famous war photographer Eddie Adams. I am convinced it was faked, and so have no problem showing both it and a related film clip of the incident. If you are squeamish about blood, be warned, read no further. If you do, take comfort, as it is fake blood.

full-photo-from-harpersTyrone in the comments a while back gave us the images of Napalm Girl in a kind of “the making of” film clip. We were able to easily demonstrate that her Famous Photo was staged, and that Phan Thị Kim Phúc, the screaming girl running down the road, was acting then, and still is. She was not wounded.

hanoi-jane-4This led to a post and a long comment section on Hanoi Jane wherein I concluded (though not with unanimous support) that Jane Fonda probably never went to Vietnam, and that her famous gun turret photos were also staged, her face merely pasted on other bodies as seen to the left.

kent-stateNot too long after came Tyrone again, this time casting a skeptical eye on the famous Kent State photo of the girl crying over a victim. Someone had just been shot, and yet people were milling about or walking on their way to classes, hardly taking notice. It too was staged.

Jane Fonda’s little exercise was obviously designed to increase support for the Vietnam War by isolating and alienating the antiwar movement from the mainstream. But Napalm Girl and Kent State were meant to have the opposite effect, to demonize the military and increase public opposition to the war.

All the events were faked. The same arm of government, the propaganda arm, was behind all of them. They apparently did not care which side we were on.

Today I’ve been examining another famous was photo, known as the Saigon Execution, by AP war photographer Eddie Adams. Here is the photo.


Adams says in interviews that at the time his shutter went off, the bullet was in the head of the young victim. I am not sure how he would know, unless he was in the dark room when they did this photo. It is a fake. So is he.

At the same time that the Famous Photo was supposedly being taken, a film crew was covering the incident.  Below is a ten-second clip of the incident that Adams supposedly captured on camera. Again, while it is meant to appear gruesome and cause you to turn away, it was staged. No one was harmed that day.

Below on the left, again, the Famous Photo. Remember that Adams says the bullet was in the boy’s head, so that his shutter went off at the instant that the gun was fired. On the right is a screen grab of the exact same moment as taken from the YouTube video Execution of a Vietcong Prisoner. It should match the Adams photo. It does not.

Note the differences:

  • The Adams photo would have been taken from the same angle as the ten-second clip, as the young boy, Nguyễn Văn Lém,  is facing us at virtually the same angle. Indeed, the boy’s shirt looks the same, so do his posture and arms. Only the head differs.
  • In the film clip a soldier has come between the movie camera and the scene, while Adams, supposedly positioned in the same place, has a clear and unobstructed view.
  • There is a policeman passing behind Văn Lém in the photo on the right – you can see his leg. He is also clearly visible in the film clip. He is in the Adams shot but is yet to pass behind the boy.
  • The angle of the arm of the holding the gun and being fired by Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan is nearly horizontal in the Famous Photo, and at a 45 degree angle in the film clip.
  • There are the usual discrepancies we find in pasted up photos, such as conflicting light sources (Ngọc Loan lit from the left and the back of his head, light source at seven or eight o’clock,  the policeman walking behind the shooting lit from five o’clock, perhaps by the same Klieg light that is illuminating Văn Lém’s face.The shadows of the trees on the left conflict with the shadow of the policeman walking behind, whose shadow is far too dark, as if he has a powerful light high in the air, perhaps on a boom?
  • In fact, the entire backdrop has shifted between the film and the photo, indicating the Adams must have been standing perhaps a few feet to the right in order to have the (infinite) shutter setting capture the entire backdrop in focus. Yet Văn Lém is seen at the same angle in each.

You might suggest that a recoil caused Loan’s hand to bounce back, creating the differences in arm angle, but watch the clip again and you will see that the gun did not recoil at all. This indicates it was either not really fired or was firing blanks.

Imagine a movie set where everyone is in position and the director yells “And … action.” Everyone moves as scripted, Ngọc Loan raising the gun and firing, Văn Lém falling, the policeman behind walking across the set, the blood being squirted near the head while soldiers move about to obscure the fakery. It takes several takes to get it right, and so there are going to be differences, which is why the filmed version is so different from the Famous Photo. The filmed version was one of several takes, while the Famous photo was a studio compilation with some pasting – the backdrop taken separately and added, lighting added to Văn Lém’s face to highlight the horror … in the end, they say “good enough.”

There is more. Below is a series of screen grabs from the video of the shooting (with some narration on my part). In this sequence, pay attention to the areas I have circled, the supposed blood from Văn Lém’s wound.


The young man has fallen, but blood is only apparent perhaps a foot or more from his head.


More blood has been supplied from a source off camera and to the right, and is running towards the victim.


Yet more blood is supplied from off camera, and running in a stream closer towards the victim’s head.


The line of blood has now almost reached the head, and a soldier is moving in to obscure the view. Circled in green is an arm or a device of some kind squirting the fake blood.

If you go back now and watch the ten-second clip, you will see how the blood appears to be not from Văn Lém, but supplied by some device from behind the soldier standing on the right. He was positioned there to hide the real source.

eddie-adamsSo we have two scenes, one of which Adams could not have photographed, as it is far too different from his Famous Photo. We have blood supplied from an off-camera source. We are in fact looking at a professional production complete with crew and actors. The Famous Photo is a carefully designed paste-up. Only one thing is missing from the set that day – something critically important – was not there: Eddie Adams. He did not need to be there. He did not take the photo. Check him out here, if you can stomach such a liar.

Nguyễn Ngọc Loan was chief of South Vietnam’s national police. He supposedly committed murder in front of the entire world. While we might assume that Vietnam was a lawless place and that this was an act of war so that there were no consequences. What he did was a heinous act and a violation of law under any circumstances, anywhere. Even in wartime police are not allowed to randomly pull people aside and kill them. I know such horrible things happen in war. But such deeds are done quietly and away from cameras. No one wants to become a target of either a justice system or the enemy. No one puts on a display like Ngọc Loan did unless done for unstated purposes. In this case the purpose was to create agitation propaganda aimed at the American public.

So why did the American propaganda people agitate both for the war (using Jane Fonda) and against the war (Napalm Girl, Kent State, Saigon Execution)? It is easily understood – public opinion in our country is managed, but never heeded. It is a nuisance and so has to be focused away from the real action. They are saying “Hey! Look over here! Not over there!” Our leaders did not care if we were for or against the war, as our opinions did not matter then any more than now. They only wanted us fighting among ourselves and out of their hair.

The Famous Photo was taken in 1968. The war would go on another seven years, a fake war on our TV screens and in our newspapers. There was also a real war, about which we know very little. It was hidden from view.

27 thoughts on “The execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém: Another Famous Photo is fake

  1. When I first looked at this, it looked solid. But now I’m seeing some things I didn’t see before. To begin with, the blood: it looks like the blood is squirting out of his head on the side where the bullet would have entered. It first lands farther away from the head because of the pressure and then comes closer as the pressure starts to get lower. The ‘thing’ that you identified as being the source of the blood looks to me like nothing more than a bright spot between shadows (in particular between the shadows cast by the head and raised arm of a soldier off screen).

    The guy who took the picture was probably standing to the right of the guy shooting the video: in the picture we can see down the street but not so in the video. I think we also see a bit more of the far side of the victim’s face.

    For me the biggest discrepancy is that in the video, the arm of the officer firing the gun is bent much more than in the picture. The police officer behind him is also fishy. He looks a bit different between the picture and the video, especially the back pack thing he’s wearing. In the picture he also looks heavily retouched. Also, in the video, you see him for a moment in the beginning before the soldier obscures the view. In that moment he looks like he’s wearing a big backpack or something. But when he comes back into view he’s just carrying something more on his side that doesn’t look like it does in the picture. But the weirdest thing about him is that he doesn’t even flinch when the gun is fired. He’s not looking in that direction at all, but seems unphased and unsurprised. If you hear a gun go off right nearby, even if you’re expecting it you’d likely flinch. But in his case I don’t know why he’d even be expecting it.


    1. Yeah, I am seeing that spray now that I did not see before. I’ll have to spend more time with this. right now I am spent on it, tired of every aspect, as it keeps getting bigger.

      That is indeed a reflection off to the side, but a reflection of what? I also have to wonder how bullet wounds behave, and how people fall when shot in the head. It seems to me he would just collapse, but here does so in such a way that he does not hurt himself, first to his knees, then on to his side, not even banging his head. If muscle control ceases at once with a head wound, then the only angular momentum would be in the direction that the bullet was heading, and down due to gravity. Other possibilities, given that we have so many other discrepancies and an obvious pasted-up photo, are that he is holding a bag of blood and squirting it out through the tube.

      I have a hard time imagining that they would actually kill some one for sake of a photo, or that the photographer happened to have such a magnificent shot at an impromptu moment, complete with infinite focus set on his camera, the photo perfectly set with the subject centered and the shutter timed perfectly. Think moon landings.

      These things never end.


      1. I had the same question, just how the bullet wounds would behave (or to be more specific, how does the flesh & bone tissue react to a close range shot fired), but couldn’t find any picture to link here. Anyway, I turned for an advice to a trauma surgeon with 35+ years of experience to learn something new myself. From his explanation it may be said that it is inconclusive to say whether it was real or just an act of execution, here is why. As I watched the video, I noticed that blood was coming from what appeared to be an exit wound somewhere on the top of his skull. So my first question was – shouldn’t the heart stop its function immediately as the brain gets obliterated? The answer is no, the heart goes on beating for a few more moments, so it’s “normal” to see the head / skull wound bleeding. If the wound is as well done to the major cranial artery, it would be possible to see what video suggests we are seeing – blood sprayed as the heart beats. Further in the video at mark 0:7 the victim moves (straightens) his right leg, which was not a spasm move (as it could happen with post mortem uncontrollable spasms). So I asked – can anybody fatally shot to the head still move his limbs? And the answer was “yes, they can and sometimes the head shot victims get to the hospital fully aware and conscious”. Well, just stunning.

        Interesting enough, as I told him what video I’m trying to understand, he said he remembers it and told me, that he watched it from back then. But he ended the comment laughing, saying “you know, if anybody would be making a video of the chief of Saigon police executing some cuffed guy, he’d be shot next” . I would agree, that’s just arrogantly stupid of anybody to allow, isn’t it?


        1. I mentioned that in the post – that he would not do that on camera for fear of a justice system, no matter how weak, or enemies seeking retribution. I too did some Googling on head wounds, and found that loss of blood is the major cause of death in maybe 20% of the cases, gangland deaths and all of that.

          But I question, if it was an exit wound, the narrow scope and fine stream of blood. Exit wounds are usually big holes, so blood would have oozed, albeit in large quantities, but not spurted like that.


          1. There was no intent on my side to overlook what you said, I should’ve agreed with both of you explicitly. My apologies for that.

            Surgeon’s lesson #2: exit wounds are not necessarily big holes, it mostly depends on bullet’s caliber size and speed of the bullet (with other parameters affecting it as well). Regardless of the size of the wound, spurting blood always comes from open arteries as venae do not allow it (i.e. with a leg torn off, the wound would be visually huge, but blood would be spurting in fine stream(s) only from arteries). Without regard for exit or entry wound dilemma, the principle/mechanism of blood spurts remains the same.


  2. I don’t think at that range a blank would be fired- Blanks are plugs, often wads of paper, that do eject at high speeds- A possible zombie, Jon-Erik Hexum, a boy toy of Joan Collins allegedly shot himself dead by playing with a gun loaded with blanks-
    Blood squibs can be messy- A pump in the victims bound hands could have been employed with a small tube running up his side and hidden behind an ear- Also, squirt guns are sometimes used off camera to add to a spurting effect- Only close analysis of a high definition version could narrow the search for the blood source, but what is visible can be easily explained by variants of what I suggest above-
    PS- I have never trusted the soundtrack- The gun shot is too drawn out, like a movie sound effect from a spaghetti western- Also, the ambient sounds would be very familiar to any sound mixer- The sound at least is from out of a collection of effects- And looking at the blood one more time, I could accept that the first blood elements are coming from a squirt gun just to establish blood, after which, the hidden pump is used- The pump takes time to seep and for maximum impact it looks like they were counting on shock to keep from understanding the blood puddle is from two different sources, IMO-


    1. Looking at the video on a better computer, I agree with Dad that the blood does appear to spout in an arc from the location of the bullet entry wound which then forms the puddle- Also, there is a small protrusion popping up on the opposite side of the head, at the hair line- These are effects I’ve seen in movies so it is possible to stage that- A movie called Walker, I believe, with Ed Harris as a Central American revolutionary has a similar gun shot/blood spout effect in it- I’d never seen anything that gory before- The Saigon head shot may have been the director’s inspiration for that scene- Still, the waiving of the pistol, no apparent expulsion from the barrel and no recoil or reaction of note from bystanders heavily favors fraud- Also, the pistol has no hammer that I can see, but I have NO experience with firearms so I can’t say what that may mean-


      1. The Smith and Wesson Model 42 had an enclosed hammer for concealed carry. This made the weapon snag proof if drawn quickly from a pocket or waste band.


        1. Thanks, John T (the Duke in Rio Bravo, if I’m recalling correctly)- New clue: In the video the victim glances briefly at the gun as it is about to be raised and then turns back to his original position to take the hit- He looks drugged but that glance gives him away as he tips off that he is fully aware- He also plays tall, and if he is, he’s one of the more well fed Vietnamese as they are generally short- Diet not so good- That could be another tell that he is a plant, that the assets have been eating better, longer than most and that he may be of western origin- Yes, reaching, but this is one crazy psy-op and it’s hard to put down-
          Plus, if it hasn’t been noted yet, the angle of the gun is different in the photo- It points slightly up whereas in the video it looks like it’s pointing straight ahead-


            1. I was thinking that in the photograph the general is standing further away, so he can straighten his arm to aim at the head. But in the video he was a bit closer so had to crook his arm a bit to aim for the head.


          1. We have common farm of reference in each, anything, like head size for instance, to use as a standard to measure the distance between shooter and victim in each frame – I will take a shot at that later today. So to speak.


      2. Add to this too the strong unlikelihood that such a crime would be committed with both a photographer and a camera crew present; the discrepancies between the photo and the film; the signs of pasting and photo monkeying on the Adams photo, and I think we have made a very good case for fraud.


  3. What I noticed first was the supposed victim started to fall BEFORE the shot was even heard on the video. Also, at no time does he have that”about to cry” look on his face that he assumes in the photo. His eyes are on the ground, head tilted down – never looking to his left.


    1. Did you research the history behind this photo before trying to say it and Adams are fake?
      Loan didn’t pull a random man off of the street for execution. Lem cut the throats of a South Vietnamese general, his wife, his 5 children, and his 80 year old grandmother. That’s why the General executed him. He was angry and regretful afterwards too.
      Eddie Adams destroyed General Loan’s life with this picture.
      It, and the consequences thereafter are all very real.


      1. I don’t imagine any of it is true, but the presence of a camera gives away the tale. A man about to commit murder will not do so in the presence of a professional photographer. It was staged. That makes your mass murder tale highly suspect.


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