We think war and picture Band of Brothers, Full Metal Jacket, or Hurt Locker. Very rarely do we get a full glimpse of the actuality behind what war is and what it means. Some may not want this insight, as it can be hard to swallow at times, which is why those previous films tend to do so well. But at some point we need to know and understand, if not for ourselves then for the bravery and courage of the men fighting for our country.
Restrepo documents the events of Second Platoon’s (Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment) long tour in the Korengal Valley. As you will learn, the Korengal Valley is considered to be the most dangerous area to occupy in the Afghanistan war. To put it in perspective, eighty percent of all the ordinance called in during the war came from this valley. Even in the most humble of terms, that is insane.
Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington came together to get some of the most raw and invigorating footage ever seen. They both stationed themselves with Second Platoon for a year, documenting every moment they possibly could. Unfortunately, Hetherington was killed by Libyan forces in 2011 while covering the civil war taking place in Libya. But during his time, it is safe to say he brought many of this generation’s most important events to light.
One of the most interesting aspects of Restrepo is the way you are able to connect to many of the soldiers of Second Platoon. I say this, because often we forget who our soldiers are. In my mind, it is too cliche to call them people and too disrespectful to call them common, but there is a middle ground here. These soldiers may like the same music as you, the same films, the same sports teams, the same food. It is essential that you honor these men with your respect and gratitude as soldiers. There is no doubt about that. The next step is to respect them as human beings. Not machines, not emotionless, and or heartless.
This documentary does not need much setup or convincing on my part, mainly because at this point it has already been so highly praised. For better or for worse, many forces came together to create this film. Whether it’s to respect those lost during the war, gain insight on the topic, understand what drives a soldier, or whatever. Find a reason and watch Restrepo.
Restrepo (2010) directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger