Restrepo

For Restrepo, author Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington filmed a year embedded with US soldiers in Afghanistan amid spectacular mountain scenery in the ultra-remote Korengal valley, chronicling the hard work, fear and brotherhood that comes with repelling a deadly enemy in this Oscar-nominated documentary. Skip the movies with actors and scripts — this is the war in Afghanistan showing the guys fighting it. I spent a nine month deployment there and to echo what many of the reviews say, this is the closest thing to real. The filmmakers want us to see the war for what it is, and they do a wonderful job of simply following a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan. If you want to know what it’s like, this is as close as many will come to truly understanding what they go through. This film does an excellent job of offering the viewer an opportunity to experience many aspects of a soldier’s deployment, ranging from the living conditions and dealing with the locals, to warfare and losing a fellow soldier. It’s not action-packed. It’s a realistic account that accurately depicts these guys just getting by one day at a time. These soldiers fight in nothing but track shorts and flack-jacket. The combat videography was great, but the parts that reminded me of deployment was the downtime…waiting to get hit by an enemy attack. The soldiers have little personal chats on the radio, and smoke cigarettes shirtless on the barricades as they listen to their buddy strum a guitar. It shows the unprecedented kinship formed in battle — and the ruinous emotional effects of violence. You see both the horrors and scars of war. It shows these boys suffering, and their tremendous efforts not to show it. “I can’t sleep at night,” a young soldier says, his goodhearted genuine smile contrasting with his words, “the sleeping pills don’t work. I can’t forget it. I can’t sleep.” Sure, the combat footage is intense. Yes, that’s why I first watched this film. But it ended up being more than a venue for violence and bloodshed — instead portraying the vulnerability and humanity of the young men fighting the war. The result is brilliantly human and moving. Suddenly there are six new faces in my life I will never forget. I’ll remember until the day I die the look on the faces of these brave, disciplined and unquestionably dedicated soldiers. It shows you what our men and women in uniform have been through during battle. The footage is brilliant. As a cadet in a U.S. service academy, we were reading/watching works such as these in an effort to fully understand the effects and tolls of combat. This movie reminded me a lot of what my deployment was like in 2004/2005. This is by far the best film of actual events that I have seen. I can’t recommend this film enough for those who still have questions about exactly what we were doing there. If you still think the War in Afghanistan was justified and worth the lives that were lost, this film will change your mind. It dawned on me that regardless of what we were told about that war and the reasons why we were there, it was just not worth it. Pay particular attention to the end of the film when the results of the mission are explained. That’s what iced it for me. This film does what a documentary should do: it objectively documents a subject and allows viewers to empathize with everyone involved, permitting our own opinions to develop while also challenging our perceptions. Incredible documentary. I love this movie because it shows in detail the camaraderie and emotions that help me understand what they went through. Some scenes are hard to watch when you realize that it’s not fiction, but this is a riveting trip into the most dangerous place on earth. I sobbed watching this story. This film was life-altering for me. This has got to be the single best analysis of the human experience of war I have ever seen. One of the best documentaries I’ve ever watched. Tell people about this movie. It’s a must-see for sure! I believe that every American who ever votes to send kids to war should watch this film. I hope that more documentaries like this are filmed and shown to the public. This will educate our civilian population, again, about how little is accomplished in war. What did this group of soldiers accomplish? Well, some lost their lives, that’s for sure. Skip the movie Act of Valor and other over-the-top typical pro-war propaganda films. So many war documentaries focus too narrowly on painting service members as heroes or monsters. Nobody recognizes that they’re really a bunch of kids, just trying to keep each other safe. Many war documentaries seem targeted at the tacti-cool, ooh-rah crowd. This is different. As a great companion piece to this documentary I recommend reading Sebastian Junger’s book “War”, the literary report of his embedded journalism. Reading the book brings a whole new level of understanding to this fine film. This text-version of the film involves not only more detail of the Korengal deployment, but also the stories of each soldier before and well after the deployment. By the way, Tim Heatherington – one of the film’s directors and cameramen – died in an attack while covering the Libyan revolution last year. That makes this film just that much more important. Documentary 2010 R 1hr 33m.

SEE ALSO:

Winter Soldier

 

 

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