Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Hill

Restrepo (2010) - Hetherington, Junger
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I consciously blocked out the onslaught of Iraq & Afgan war movies ever since that war began more than a decade ago. I was opposed to any military actions and it was too soon and too much for me to stomach. Restrepo follows a US battalion stationed in the most dangerous area in Afganistan, Korengal Valley, 2007. No ideology, no messages, no judgment, just young soldiers doing their job which happens to be taking over a hill, build a post (called Restrepo, named for their fallen comrade) there to get a better view and hold that position amid intense firefight and angry villagers day and night. It's a riveting stuff. Soldiers are no older than students I deal with every day. They are under insane amount of pressure and stress. They see their friends being shot and killed. Hetherington and Junger are there right beside them. If not anything, they are as much adrenalin junkies as the soldiers are. At one point one asks one of the soldiers about the rush that's much greater than bungee jumping or being on crack, what happens when they go back to civilian life? They don't know. They can't sleep at night, thinking about their dead friends. No sleeping pill helps. The epilogue says the US troops began withdrawing from the valley in 2009. Restrepo doesn't have to be preachy. It shows the follies of war naturally.

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