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In the Valley of Elah (2007)

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A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son's disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.



(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »
3,881 ( 283)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sgt. Dan Carnelli
Arnold Bickman
Corporal Steve Penning
Spc. Gordon Bonner
Spc. Ennis Long
Mike Deerfield
Detective Nugent
Private Robert Ortiez (as Victor Wolf)
Detective Hodge


In Monroe, Tennessee, Hank Deerfield, an aging warrior, gets a call that his son, just back from 18 months' fighting in Iraq, is missing from his base. Hank drives to Fort Rudd, New Mexico, to search. Within a day, the charred and dismembered body of his son is found on the outskirts of town. Deerfield pushes himself into the investigation, marked by jurisdictional antagonism between the Army and local police. Working mostly with a new detective, Emily Sanders, Hank seems to close in on what happened. Major smuggling? A drug deal gone awry? Credit card slips, some photographs, and video clips from Iraq may hold the key. If Hank gets to the truth, what will it tell him? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent and disturbing content, language and some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 September 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Death and Dishonor  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$133,557 (USA) (14 September 2007)


$6,777,589 (USA) (15 February 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was originally a potential starring vehicle for Clint Eastwood, who directed Paul Haggis's screenplay for Million Dollar Baby (2004). Eastwood turned it down, despite liking the script very much, and recommended his friend Tommy Lee Jones (whom he had directed and acted with in Space Cowboys (2000)) for the role of Hank Deerfield. See more »


In the scene where Hank Deerfield is trying to access his son's financial records via his laptop, he is talking to his wife on the phone. When the camera is on him, he is holding the handset to his ear but when the camera is on the laptop, the phone is visible to the right of the laptop and the handset is on-hook. The logo of a dial-up ISP is displayed on the laptop as it's downloading e-mail. If the laptop is connected to the ISP, he couldn't be using the phone line to make a voice call. See more »


[first lines]
Spc. Gordon Bonner: What are you doing? Get back in the fucking vehicle man! Mike, get back in the fucking vehicle. Let's go, Mike, now!
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Featured in The 80th Annual Academy Awards (2008) See more »


Written by Annie Lennox
Performed by Annie Lennox
Courtesy of Arista Records, LLC
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

confused by reviews
11 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I just saw this film and consider it to be one of the best anti-war films I've seen in quite a long time. And that makes me wonder at what the various critics are thinking. Roger Ebert gets it right, but some film critics are far too dismissive of a very serious, important film. James Berardinelli, in particular, seems curiously _angry_ that this film depicts the moral degradation of war in a frank and honest fashion.

Berardinelli is basically wrong in every single thing he says about the film. Since this film is not a "politcal message" film, it has no requirement to "show both sides equally". It is a story about a group of soldiers basically driven beyond the area of traditionally human behavior. Berardinelli thinks that it's "obvious" that war changes the way people feel about their country.

I sense a person utterly detached from history when I read that. A recent study concluded that the English were, as a group, fairly happy during WWII, even when their nation was under attack. Why was that? Because they believed in what they were doing. The notion that war _necessarily_ results in moral breakdown is, while hardly novel, also not true. That is part of what is important about "Elah". Jones' character is a veteran of the Vietnam war, and is hardly a delicate flower when it comes to the matters of war and its effect on the psyche. And yet even he is floored at what the Iraq war has done to the soldiers.

It is easy for a film critic to simply reject what is essentially reporting on the state of the military today. That Berardinelli does so with such vitriol makes me guess that he is injecting his own bias into the review.

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