Restrepo(Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger, 2010):USA

Reviewed by Charles Starr viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2011

As part of the 2011 Santa Barbara Independent Film Festival, I viewed the film Restrepo. Restrepo is a documentary about the current war in Afghanistan. More specifically, it follows a 15 month deployment of a platoon in the Korengal Valley, also known as “The Valley of Death” by some American soldiers.

The film was shot by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, two journalists from “Vanity Fair”. During the course of the film, the audience becomes acquainted with the story behind the creation of the outpost dubbed Restrepo. “Restrepo” is the last name of an army medic who was killed in battle, Juan Sebastian Restrepo and the post was named in his honor.

“Restrepo” was an incredible documentary. Never do I feel I have been shown a more accurate picture of what it is like to be deployed to another country and engage in battle. I feel many of the American Military’s ads glorify a soldier’s duty and ignore the psychological consequences defending their country can have on them. “Restrepo” contained much content of soldiers emotionally distraught over things they had done intentional or unintentional, and the things they had witnessed: the deaths of their friends, deaths of their enemies, and civilians. I think everyone realizes how soldiers miss home, but how they cope, and how they deal with everything they witness while deployed was something I knew little about before seeing this film. Part of this platoon’s assignment was to gain the trust of inhabitants, another aspect of the military I had not really been exposed to and something I feel is quite honorable. War is a horrible thing to have to be a part of and I appreaciate there is a portion of war that is spent talking with civilians and not killing them. It seems sad to think that average citizens have to worry about what effect their bullets will have while the government leaders of the country they are defending only have to worry how about what effect their words have. It must be a nice break for the soldiers to not always have their guns pointed.

I feel very motivated to recommend this film to others. I think there should be more documentaries like this one, that depict war in a way that seems truthful, real, and accurate. Anyone who wants to be in the military should see films like these in order to make a well-informed decision.

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