What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home? Hell and Back Again is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers these questions with a power and ... See full summary »
In February 2009 a group of Danish soldiers accompanied by documentary filmmaker Janus Metz arrived at Armadillo, an army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Metz and cameraman... See full summary »
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.
Camp Victory, Afghanistan is the true story of the American Exit Strategy. Using 300 hours of footage shot over the course of three years, the film follows a battle-tested Afghan General ... See full summary »
An intimate portrait of an American family during a turbulent time. Jake Rademacher sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The... See full summary »
A unique documentary about troops' experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, based on writings by soldiers, Marines, and air men. Some writings were published in the New Yorker in summer 2006. A... See full summary »
Sharon D. Allen,
What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home? Hell and Back Again is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers these questions with a power and intimacy no previous film about the conflict in Afghanistan has been able to achieve. It is a masterpiece in the cinema of war. Written by
Despite an establishing shot of the exterior of a Walgreens pharmacy, the scene where Nathan's wife purchases his prescriptions is clearly filmed inside a CVS pharmacy, as seen on the cashier's name tag. See more »
A great documentary that will bring out different things from different people
Many documentaries have some sort of bias, whether it be "pro" or "anti" something or other. "To Hell and Back Again" is different in that it will probably expose one's opinions without really having one itself. The documentary follows the life of Sgt Nathan Harris and his wife Ashley who live in a small town in North Carolina. Nathan is a marine who, on his third tour of duty, is wounded in his leg and has to go through extensive and painful therapy. Danfung Dennis cuts between these images and those he took earlier of Nathan leading his platoon in an intense tour in Afghanistan. The contrasts are incredible and help emphasize everything that a marine goes through both abroad and at home. Some images are severe, such as the deaths of an American LCP and an Afghan soldier (both die off screen but you do see their bodies moments after)
The footage of Nathan at home, however, is what may bring out very different responses. He is obviously in extreme pain and has a harder life, yet is still very gung-ho and dreams of a full recovery and return to the front line (which got a gasp of disbelief by some in my theater). He also is very interested in firearms, and there are several shots of him and his pistols which he keeps near his bed and which he trains his wife how to use. She, meanwhile, must deal with the stress of caring for an injured husband while still performing her daily routine. Together, they see people in their community (who are quite positive), the marine doctors (who are hopeful for his recovery), and attend a very sad memorial for recently KIA soldiers at the base.
To anyone who is staunchly pro-military, the footage should be quite uplifting. Nathan is determined to recover (and he does noticeably improve though as of April 2011 is not fully healed) and the support of his community and especially his wife is heartwarming. Those who are not so gung-ho will probably be shocked by the footage. In the Q&A with the director and Ashley after the screening, one woman asked Ashley if she was scared for her life at all (a reference to Nathan's constant gun wielding, which she wasn't). Regardless of your leanings though this is an excellent documentary and should not be missed.
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