Restrepo has been nominated for an Oscar. This film is certainly one of the best war documentaries I have ever seen. It tells the story of the deployment of Second Platoon, Battle Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade to the Korengal Valley in Eastern Afghanistan. Named after a dead comrade, Restrepo is a remote 15-man outpost, built in the middle of the night from Hescos and dirt. Most days it comes under fire. At one point, one soldier is says he would really have liked to see some of the people he is actually fighting against. Most of the time they are invisible.
The soldiers, most of whom were on a 14-month deployment, tell the story, sometimes direct to camera, sometimes during action as it is filmed. There are no interviews with anyone not based in Restrepo, just the grunts.
Some parts of the film are heartbreaking. At one point the platoon visits a local village where they had called in an airstrike. Although some of those killed were combatants, most of the victims and wounded appeared to be children. The soldiers struggle to justify to themselves what they see. Some of them try to explain the difficulties of returning to America after a deployment like this, recognising that no-one will be able to understand the pressures they have faced.
Restrepo has already won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and surely deserves the ultimate film accolade. It was made by noted war journalists Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, both of whom have written books about the Korengal Valley, which was abandoned by US forces last spring.
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