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Combat GI ordeal revealed in “Restrepo”

    By Contributing Writers. October 24, 2011 - 6:53 pm

As of Oct. 7, the war in Afghanistan officially became the longest war in U.S. history. It has been 10 years since America invaded the country in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.

“Restrepo” (2010) brings viewers into the daily life of a company of American soldiers during an intense 14-month deployment in one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan, the Korangal Valley.

The film, which is available on DVD, was shown Oct. 5 and 7, as part of the HPU Viewpoint Film Series.

The filmmakers – Sebastian Junger, reporter and author of “The Perfect Storm” and Tim Hetherington, a photographer with extensive experience in war zones – spent more than a year with the Second Platoon, focusing mainly on a 15 man outpost called Restrepo in honor of the troops’ fallen comrade, PFC Juan Restrepo.

This documentary captures “the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves,” according to the director’s statement on the film website.

“Their lives were our lives. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. This is reality.”

While hanging out with members of Battle Company between May 2007 and July 2008, Junger and Hetherington captured everything from the never-ending boredom and the rowdy horseplay, to reconnaissance missions and firefights.

 After deployment, the soldiers met up with the filmmakers for interviews.

At the time of the film’s recording, this place was considered a place of strategic importance and was extremely dangerous for American soldiers. Nearly every day there was a new engagement.

The documentary avoids all political discussion and focuses solely on the soldiers’ experiences while in Afghanistan. They share how they feel about being in one of the worst places in the world, what they take away from deployment and how they handle losing a friend in the field.

  Film critic Roger Ebert writes of the movie:

“The film is nonpolitical. It was filmed at great personal risk by the war photographer Tim Hetherington and the author Sebastian Junger. It raises for me an obvious question: How can this war possibly be won?”

 At the end, a title tells us U.S. troops withdrew from the Korangal Valley and therefore Outpost Restrepo in 2010.”

KEZIA HOLM
Student writer