It has been called 'the saddest acre in America.' It is also one of the most sacred. Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for young men and women who died ...
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It has been called 'the saddest acre in America.' It is also one of the most sacred. Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for young men and women who died fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For families and friends, it is a place to grieve, to honor, to remember--and to find comfort and community with others who have shared the same profound loss. Award-winning filmmakers Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill present this emotional, elegiac documentary filmed entirely in Section 60 where cameras captured the sights and sounds of funerals and provide intimate glimpses of family members and friends who have come to honor their loved ones.
This is a tough review to write. I need to say up front that I respect our men and women in the military who fight for freedom across the globe. These brave souls deserve our all, and seeing the final resting places of those who didn't make it is humbling in the extreme.
But if we're going to be honest about reviewing this documentary, then we have to do it objectively (i.e., without emotions, and an eye toward education and informing the general public).
My first big problem is that there's very little information given on SECTION 60; about it's formation, the battle for more space for grave sites, who oversees the care of the grounds, and how the families of the deceased view these aspects. Instead, the camera is relegated to basically being a fly on the wall while families visit the cemetery. We see families cry, touch headstones, leave trinkets for their dearly departed, and listen to them mourn. And that is the entirety of the film. It is also focused almost entirely on those soldiers killed in the current Middle East conflicts, with nothing noted about the surrounding soldiers who've been there since Vietnam, Korea and beyond.
Another big problem is that there were too many lingering shots of headstones. Headstones being cleaned. Headstones with the sun setting behind them. Headstones with jelly beans on them. This might not have been too bad if the documentarians had included informational dialogue during a few of them. But the shots are eerily silent, making it seem more macabre than packing any sort of emotional punch. Too, I found these overly-long shots (sorry to say) exceptionally boring.
Let's not forget that these brave men and women died so that we might live, too. Life is for the living, not the dead. And it is the living and how they deal with what's left to them that I would've found more fascinating than this current documentary.
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