I just watched Restrepo streaming on Netflix. Directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, Restrepo can be seen as a supplement to Junger’s book War, which was released earlier this year. Both the documentary and the book revolve around the same group of soldiers on deployment in Afghanistan, more specifically, soldiers stationed in the Korangal Valley in 2007.
While Junger is a character in War, writing even about trying to savor the one cup of coffee he’ll get in the morning, he’s absent from the actual documentary, staying behind the cameras while allowing the soldiers to be the only characters. Hetherington and Junger switch from scenes of day to day life and battles to interviews with some of the soldiers after they left Restrepo, the outpost where some of them were stationed within the Korangal Valley.
I really liked War when I read it and not necessarily enjoyed (how can you when you are watching soldiers talk about how their friends died), but respected Restrepo for what they bring forward – what it’s like to be a soldier in the war in Afghanistan. Both are devoid of politics and you never really read or hear someone denouncing or approving of the war. It doesn’t matter what one’s own personal feelings about the wars raging are because you can’t help but respect these people who are putting their lives on the line every day. It’s all just really crazy folks and at times, beyond my comprehension.
Read War if you can (still in hardback) and watch Restrepo, which was just released on DVD and is also available on Netflix streaming.