The sudden explosion on the movie screen, broadcasting the film Restrepo, was responded by a long, deafening siren and a bunch of profanity; meanwhile, the go-pro filming resembled the images and events depicted to many only in violent video games, like Call of Duty.
The difference was that this time, it was real. Soldiers were being shot at.
There was no restart button.
Soon, the film rolled scenes from the horrific battlefield of Korengal Valley, in Afghanistan: where 15 U.S soldiers of the “Second Platoon, Battle Company of the 503rd Infantry Regiment (airborne)” found themselves fighting the Taliban starting May 2007 to July 2008, hoping to gain control over the strategically crucial valley.
“Let’s go get ’em!”
Filmmakers Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger lived on the edge for a year filming the horrors, realities, and sacrifice that soldiers make serving their country.
They chose to name the documentary Restrepo, after the insurmountable outpost Captain Dan Kearney’s team established on common Taliban routes that seriously threatens terrorist footholds in the valley.
Captain Dan Kearney scheming, stimulating and shooting.
The 15 men engage in almost daily shooting for more than a year before they successfully establish the outpost, which they dearly named after the loss of a popular comrade, Juan “Doc” Restrepo.
Hotspot outpost Restrepo
Furthermore, the documentary humanizes the 15 men as they enjoy music and share photos of their families with each other; at the same time, it also sympathizes with the loss of human lives and live-stock of the local Afghans.
Who did that one hurt? The Taliban or the innocent Afghan civilians?
However, the audience could not get too comfy with the film as scenes of death and weeping take the soldiers back to traumatizing memories of battle. These were usually depicted in small intercuts of footage.
The loss of a compatriot leaves the rest fearful and somber
Despite the uncapturable moments and emotions that Hetherington and Junger filmed, the documentary was too heavily centralized on the lives and personalities of the American soldiers.
A musical tune soothes the soldiers
Consequently, it’s quite easy to forget about the sacrifice of Restrepo, and of other American teams in the valley.
In a sense, all that matters at the end of the documentary was the establishment of the outpost and the feeling of satisfaction as the American soldiers make their way back home; whereas, the audience should have been left with a depressive note meant to urge people to come up with solutions for this devastating conflict.
Nevertheless, the documentary “Restrepo” is a one-to-watch as it surfaces the real cost of battle, human life, above money, oil, and power.
Images are screengrabs from the movie’s trailer
Edited by Dhrubhagat Singh