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Picks up where Restrepo left off. Once again we meet the men of Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503nd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in 2007-8. They are deployed at one of the most dangerous places on earth - certainly the most dangerous place, at the time, for US forces: the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. Journalist Sebastian Junger and photojournalist Tim Hetherington were embedded with the 2nd Platoon of B Company and captured their daily lives.Written by
Review: Korengal (2014) - War Journalism At It's Second Best
2010's Restrepo brought the Afghanistan War in to peoples' homes, bearing visceral shots and the raw emotion of modern warfare. Photojournalist Tim Heatherington and Sebastian Junger spent ten months with Combat Outpost (COP) Restrepo's "Battle Company" reaping an inordinate amount of footage. More footage than they could place into the first documentary. A year later, Heatherington would be dead; killed by shrapnel whilst covering the 2011 Libyan Civil War. Junger felt that the copious amount of footage leftover from Restrepo lent itself to another film. Thusly, Korengal, a companion film, was born.
Where the prior of the pair seemed aimed to illustrate Chris Hedge's 2002 quote, "The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years," the latter shoots to exploit a more poignant and familial sense from the footage and interviews. For those familiar with Restrepo, do not expect anything revolutionary here. What you will be seeing is footage shot during the same time period (2007-2008) using the same equipment. That said, this is in no way a strike against the film. Junger fares well in his organization of the footage and new interviews. This is an altogether new narrative.
As a piece of war journalism, it stands out as a worthy companion piece to the first film, not only elaborating on notions explored in Restrepo's 93 minute running time, but introducing new and arguably more meaningful elements. Junger succeeds in revisiting their footage, and bringing freshness to what could have become a dull supercut of Restrepo's outtakes in another man's hands. It's a damn shame Heatherington wasn't around to see this complete vision of the creation he and Junger set out upon in 2007. These two pictures have set the standard for war journalism, and will hopefully usher in a new era of the discipline.
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