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American soldiers of the 2/3 Field Artillery, a group known as the "Gunners," tell of their experiences in Baghdad during the Iraq War. Holed up in a bombed out pleasure palace built by Sadaam Hussein, the soldiers endured hostile situations some four months after President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in the country.
Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki's shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan's most strategically crucial valleys reveals extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers painfully push back the Taliban. Written by
Sundance Film Festival
This is where documentary filmmaking becomes serious. Whatever you are expecting out of this film, chances are you will get a whole lot more. Restrepo follows a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan who are defending a valley, Korgengal. It is said to be one of the most dangerous valleys in the entire country and these brave men take fire every single day of their brutal campaign. This is a riveting film and it is one of those that you cannot shake. It gives you a glance into the absolute darkest depths of modern warfare and just how demanding the fighting is both physically and mentally. It is a film that gives you a rare look into the horrors of war. And it is absolutely astounding.
Restrepo is shot at a very personal level. The camera never intrudes on the soldiers during their work, and thank God considering some of the harrowing things they go through in this movie. This film hardly even feels like a documentary in the sense of what we think of documentary today. It is filled with interviews, but the bulk of the movie is truly documenting the lives of these soldiers. We get to see all sides of the emotional spectrum that can be afflicted through trauma. We get to look at how different people cope with such horrors as are experienced in this film. And it is all through such respectful eyes. I never once thought, 'Wow, they should really stop filming this.' Every moment of the film feels so important and the fact that all this was so clearly and eloquently caught on camera is astounding.
The unequivocally greatest thing about this film is the fact that it has absolutely no political agenda. It really has no alternative motive other than telling the story of these incredibly brave soldiers. The film only seeks to honor the brave men who served our country in the most dangerous area imaginable. This film isn't for the political leaders responsible for the war. It isn't for the military commanders that send these soldiers into battle. This movie is for the soldiers themselves. It is a true soldier's film in every sense. It has a very stern focus on the individual. It makes such an important point out of this aspect that it could have possibly gone even further. There are a lot of men in this platoon and thus we don't get to know any one person particularly well. We get to know the platoon well as a whole and how each man interacts with his fellow soldiers and how they all deal with loss and tragedy. Each individual soldier in this movie is important and the movie strives to show how meaningful that is. It is a remarkably important aspect of the film.
You won't see many documentaries like this, and there's probably a good reason for this. The kind of footage captured in Restrepo isn't easy to get and you have to be just as brave as the soldiers themselves if you are to accompany them into battle to document their bravery. But thankfully when the opportunity to get such unforgettable footage arose, it was all put together extremely well. This is not an easy film to watch, but in the end it is so remarkably worth it.
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