Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Restrepo

I first heard about this movie from the Good Experience newsletter article.

Restrepo is a documentary about the Afghanistan war. There is an 'accompanying' book titled War. With the great technology that we have, there is an enhanced ebook for War, in which the reader can read the novel and watch clips of the movie that coincide. It was a new way to read novels in our 21st century world.

Currently, I only have iPad-envy so I don't get the pleasure of seeing the ebook...yet. But I did watch the movie and my one word "wow" does not do it justice.

This is truly a "in-the-trenches" documentary: Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington spend a year with a platoon in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. There are personal interviews peppered within the footage but for the most part, it's the camera and life in the platoon. A voyeuristic view of the life these young men lived.

And it is scary, no, terrifying. There are firefights every day. And these guys rarely look scared. They react and they fight. I don't see a single person, within the camera view, that hides or retreats in fear. It's very eerie to see their faces become detached but focused on the task at hand.

Whether you agree with the war in Afghanistan or not, we have men (and women) that *have* to do this. And seeing what they go through is truly a sad state of affairs: the end of innocence beyond repair is what I see. While that is heartbreaking to me, I have extreme respect and awe what these men go through.

There is one scene - a firefight - and one of the men is killed. The reaction - real-time reaction - of some of the men when they find out is chilling. It's too intimate, IMHO, to see someone suffer from the realization that someone you know and care about has just died.

And the most gruesome scene is when civilians are hurt and killed. Be prepared for one of the worst things you will not soon forget. A quick glimpse haunted me for the rest of the movie.

But it's an amazing movie to see. When I searched for information, after seeing it, on where these men were now (the footage was filmed in 2008), I found an interview with the Major of the platoon, Major Dan Kearney and one of his statements about his family seeing it was
It was awesome for me because it answered a lot of questions that I didn’t have to answer for me.

5 comments:

  1. My cousin was stationed in the Korengal Valley that year. :( I had read Junger's Vanity Fair article, but I hadn't realized he had made a movie as well. I'm not sure if I could watch it or not. I know a lot about what my cousin went through, but I don't know if I could bring myself to actually see it. My cousin was shot twice, once through the hand, and once in the shoulder. They got so little food there in the KOP (one MRE per day at times) that he got severely dehydrated at one point and had to be taken to Germany to get rehydrated. He is out of the army now, but still can't sleep. He has horrible nightmares and wakes up like he is grabbing his gun. It is awful. That was a horrible, horrible place to be stationed.

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  2. This blog post of mine has a good news report on Restrepo.
    http://houseofestrogen.typepad.com/house_of_estrogen/2008/10/lucky.html

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  3. and the Vanity Fair article which is very good.
    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/01/afghanistan200801

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  4. Wow. I can't believe you know someone who was there. It's sad. The movie is very similar to what your video clip has and I do think it's worth watching for most people. Maybe not you since you already see the after effects of it. Your description of your cousin is exactly my thoughts about the young men who go to war. They don't come back the same...hence my statement about "the end of the innocence".

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  5. Yeah, he definitely isn't the same. He's been through more than most people go through in a lifetime. At one point, he was sent alone to a warehouse to go through the personal belongings of a friend who had been killed. He called his mom in tears. It was just almost too much to handle. He really never sleeps at all without massive doses of sleep meds. He's trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life now, and he told my aunt, "All I know how to do is kill people." :(

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