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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2010 10 years ago

Film Review: 'Restrepo'


As Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman so aptly observed, "War is hell." And, unless you've fought in one, it's an unimaginable experience. Directors Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington eliminate the abstraction of war in their new documentary, "Restrepo."

From June 2007 to July 2008, the two war correspondents embedded themselves with American troops in a remote region of Afghanistan. The soldiers of the Second Platoon, Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade were assigned to build a 15-man outpost. Named "Restrepo" (after their fallen comrade Pfc. Juan S. Restrepo), it was located in what CNN dubbed "the most dangerous place in the world."

The men were under fire every day during their 15-month tour. The living conditions were beyond unbearable. And, yet these brave soldiers risked everything in the line of duty. Scarred for life, these young heroes never gave up.

Devoid of outside commentary and political posturing, "Restrepo" is a daring depiction of war from the front lines. Hetherington and Junger remained with the troops under fire and manage to capture some of the most incredible battle footage you'll ever see. Location shots are mingled with interviews from soldiers who survived Restrepo. These moments provide vast insight into the impact of war on the human beings who fight them.

"Restrepo" is shocking on so many levels. The terrain in Afghanistan is mind-blowingly rugged. The futility of soldiers trying to get help from the local population whose lives are threatened by the Taliban if they do so, hits hard. The deep devotion of the soldiers to one another seemed to be the only reason for fighting.
U.S. troops withdrew in 2010 from Restrepo. Fifty soldiers gave their lives protecting the outpost. If you've ever wondered what our soldiers are doing in Afghanistan, "Restrepo" will give you a clear, concise answer.

— Pam Nadon

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