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Hell and Back Again
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Hell and Back Again (2011) More at IMDbPro »

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Hell and Back Again -- 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.
Hell and Back Again -- A documentary on soldiers who have returned home from fighting in Afghanistan.
Hell and Back Again -- 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.

In this groundbreaking work of cinema, two overlapping narratives are brilliantly intercut the life of a Marine at war on the front, and the life the same Marine in recovery at home, creating both a dreamlike quality and a strikingly realistic depiction of how Marines experience this war.

Following Sergeant Nathan Harris of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, during a major assault on a Taliban stronghold, and his painful return home after a severe injury, the two stories communicate both the extraordinary drama of war and the no less shocking experience of returning home, as a whole generation of Marines struggle to find an identity in a country that prefers to be indifferent.


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Up 18% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
5 October 2011 (USA) See more »
What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home? Hell and Back Again is a cinematically... See more » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Maybe they exist in Hell See more (17 total) »


  (in credits order)
Nathan Harris ... Himself (as Sgt Nathan Harris)
Ashley Harris ... Herself
The Marines of Echo Company ... Themselves
Christian Cabaniss ... Himself (as Lt Col Christian Cabaniss)
Eric Meador ... Himself (as Cot Eric Meador)
Ted Hubbard ... Himself (as Lt Edward Hubbard)
Terry Roberts ... Himself (as Chaplain Terry Roberts)
Doug Webb ... Himself (as SSgt Doug Webb)
Robert Gaines ... Himself (as Lt Cmdr Robert Gaines)
Matthew Swibe ... Himself (as Lt Cmdr Matthew Swibe)
Chris MacDonald ... Himself (as Sgt Chris MacDonald)

Directed by
Danfung Dennis 
Produced by
Diana Barrett .... co-executive producer: Fledging Fund
Thomas Brunner .... executive producer
Dan Cogan .... executive producer
Steven Cohen .... co-executive producer
David Cumming .... co-executive producer
Ian Darling .... co-executive producer
Danfung Dennis .... producer
Abigail Disney .... co-executive producer: Fork Films
Caroleen Feeney .... co-executive producer
Maxyne Franklin .... co-executive producer: BritDoc Foundation
Pierre Hauser .... co-executive producer: Fork Films
Martin Herring .... producer
Patricia Lambrecht .... co-executive producer
Mike Lerner .... producer
Havana Marking .... executive producer
Karol Martesko .... executive producer (as Karol Martesko-Fenster)
Gernot Schaffler .... executive producer
Juliette Timsit .... co-executive producer
Original Music by
J. Ralph 
Cinematography by
Danfung Dennis 
Film Editing by
Fiona Otway 
Production Management
Janet Knipe .... production manager
Art Department
Colin Metcalf Lemon .... art direction: Lemon (as Colin Metcalf)
Colin Metcalf Lemon .... branding: Lemon (as Colin Metcalf)
Sound Department
Danfung Dennis .... additional sound designer
Danfung Dennis .... sound recordist
Arthur Pingrey .... additional sound designer
Arthur Pingrey .... dialogue editor
Arthur Pingrey .... sound editor
Arthur Pingrey .... sound re-recording mixer
J. Ralph .... dialogue editor
J. Ralph .... sound designer
J. Ralph .... sound editor
J. Ralph .... sound re-recording mixer
J. Ralph .... supervising sound editor
Reilly Steele .... sound re-recording mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
James Andrews .... additional footage (as LCpl James Abdrews)
Todd Crawford .... still photographer
Editorial Department
Stewart Griffin .... colorist
Ben Laffin .... digital intermediate editor
Jenny Raskin .... editorial consultant
Jonathan Liebert .... digital cinema mastering (uncredited)
Caitlin Tartaro .... digital intermediate producer (uncredited)
Music Department
Brian Binsack .... second scoring engineer
Bub Jess .... score producer: The Rumor Mill (as Bubb Jess)
Gary Morris .... second scoring engineer
Arthur Pingrey .... music editor
Arthur Pingrey .... song co-producer
Guy Rabinowitz .... second scoring engineer
J. Ralph .... music designer
Other crew
Rodney Brooks .... accountant
Michael Donaldson .... clearance counsel
Georgie Duncan .... production coordinator
Mohamad Ismail .... translator
Ahmad Fahin Nooristani .... translator
Dana O'Keefe .... sales agent
Karinah Turner .... production coordinator
Dennis J. Burrow .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Dennis J. Burrow)
Jordan Chrobot .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Jordan Chrobot)
Leopold F. Damas .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Leopold F. Damas)
Bruce E. Ferrell .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Bruce E. Ferrell)
David R. Hall .... in remembrance of (as LCpl David R. Hall)
Jeremy S. Lasher .... in remembrance of (as Cpl Jeremy S. Lasher)
Xhacob Latorre .... in remembrance of (as Cpl Xhacob Latorre)
Amir Muihammad .... in remembrance of (as Ana Amir Muhammad)
Javier Olvera .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Javier Olvera)
Gregory A. Posey .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Gregory A. Posey)
Patrick W. Schimmel .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Patrick W. Schimmel)
Charles S. Sharp .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Charles S. Sharp)
James Allen Smith .... thanks
Reilly Steele .... thanks
Jonathan F. Stroud .... in remembrance of (as LCpl Jonathan F. Stroud)
Donald W. Vincent .... in remembrance of (as Pfc Donald W. Vincent)
Nicholas G. Xiarhos .... in remembrance of (as Cpl Nicholas G. Xiarhos)

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
88 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Revealing mistakes: 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 »
Nathan Harris:If I do everything right, and all my men do everything right, I still can die. So You just have to accept it.See more »
Movie Connections:
Hell And BackSee more »

Maybe they exist in Hell, 20 April 2012
Author: Steve Pulaski from United States

Hell and Back Again is a war film that should be shown to teenagers rather than something like Battle: Los Angeles. This is a true account of the war in Afghanistan, showing real-life footage of the war taken from the director himself.

We follow around Nathan Harris, a twenty-year old Marine sergeant, who has returned from his six month tour in Afghanistan in a wheelchair. Shortly before the end of his deployment, he is shot by a sniper, with the bullet going through his right hip, punctured his hip socket, before finally collapsing to break his leg. It's a messy scenario, and Harris will need a full year of rehab before returning to Afghanistan.

In the meantime, Harris is trying to adjust to civilian life, while coping with an injury, and is being cared for by his high school sweetheart Ashley. He always seems to be on some sort of medication, and is clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. During this time, the film is intercut with combat footage, showing Harris leading his men, strategizing, sometimes stressing, and shooting. It's effective and serves purpose because it real and not fictionalized or dramatized for theatrical purposes.

Some sequences, arguably some of the best, show the Marines talking to the Afghanistan civilians who are disgusted by the Marines invading their area, complicating farming and disrupting their family life. They give the Afghanistan people some humanity and distinction rather than we Americans declaring them "stupid terrorists." One of the strongest things a documentary can do is obviously inform, and Hell and Back Again shows us a world we don't like to think about.

Although the film is poignant, relative, and undeniably interesting, at some points it feels a bit too distended from its actual topic. It's trying to showcase the struggle and inevitably complex adaptation from one life to another, yet it seems to be too sidetracked by showing a number of from the Afghanistan War. And sometimes, the results feels a tad too cinematic by showing a stressed out, barely functional Nathan with his head in his hands, while audio from combat is playing over the scene. It's things like that in which a documentary tries to be too much like a fictional film, by splicing up its own narrative and thoughts in the process.

It still doesn't derail what an incredibly moving film Hell and Back Again is. I recently discussed with a friend about the abundance of media coverage returning soldiers get. I find it to be extremely necessary to show our troops coming home, and that we should never forget the fact that freedom is a lot of things, but not free. I was also told by my grandmother that when soldiers used to come home, they came home and that was it. The Vietnam Vets didn't even get a look from bystanders in the same directions. We have become graphic nationalists in just a few decades and here is a beautifully crafted documentary showing the hardships soldiers face when the battle comes to an end and is transported overseas in your own living room. It seems one doesn't go back to Hell, but rather remains in it.

Starring: Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris and Ashley Harris. Directed by: Danfung Dennis.

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