Friday, August 20, 2010
The other weekend, AG and I went to see the movie "Restrepo". I actually hadn't heard anything about this movie, and apparently it is only playing in certain theaters. AG had heard from one of his instructors that it was playing in Tucson, so we were able to catch it up there.
"Restrepo" is actually a documentary that follows an individual platoon during most of their 2008 deployment in Afghanistan. It was filmed by embedded photojournalists from National Geographic and won an award at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
I was particularly interested to see the film as the platoon was in the Korengal Valley in the Kunar province, which borders Pakistan. AG spent the second half of his deployment in that province, and so I was curious to see what it looked like. Apparently, we abandoned operations in the Korengal Valley this past April. For me, it was interesting to see the things that we had talked about. During the first part of his deployment, he was at a small outpost and talked about establishing perimeters and building walls from HESCO's (large containers filled with dirt).
Most of the soldiers in the platoon were very young, and I guess that from dealing with a large military population at work, I have become somewhat desensitized to this. What did surprise me though, was seeing how much responsibility was put on this individual platoon. Most of the direct supervision appeared to be coming from one sole captain, although I think a lieutenant colonel did make an appearance at one of the meetings with village elders.
I didn't really get a pro- or anti-war feeling from the movie. A good bit of it features one-on-one clips with individual soldiers, and clearly several of them are dealing with PTSD and are yet unable to process their experience. I wouldn't say that the film is very graphic, although when one of the platoon's members is killed, it does show the varying coping mechanisms of the soldiers, ranging from rage to complete shutdown. I think that whether you are for or against our current involvement and Afghanistan, this documentary gives the viewer a good idea of just what today's individual soldier might experience during deployment.