Image from here
I don't usually write about documentaries, and Restrepo may seem like an odd choice for Easter Sunday. But I'm sure you heard that Tim Hetherington, one of the two directors of this film, was killed in Libya this week. And as Biscuit said, when the soldiers helicopter into Afghanistan, you feel like you've stepped into the Bible.
Restrepo is the story of one Army platoon's fifteen month deployment in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. The movie and the remote outpost where most of it occurs are named after Juan "Doc" Restrepo, a popular medic killed shortly after the platoon's arrival. It's a different kind of war movie. There are firefights, but these mostly consist of American teenagers blasting away at distant unseen enemies.
For me, this is a story about the futility of war in general, and this war in particular. We see a group of young men endure a year in the most remote, foreign, and dangerous place imaginable. We see them wander through these villages, not speaking the language, unaware of the culture, trying to learn from inevitable mistakes that end up costing lives. The most disturbing thing personally was watching how the individuals change over their time at the end of the world, losing bits of innocence and humanity day by day.
Having said all of that, it's not really a depressing film. The scenery is beautiful, and we almost immediately start rooting for these boys, not necessarily for victory, but that they will survive all of this without losing too much. And I think if you live in this country and pay taxes, you should probably see it.
Restrepo is a beautiful and heartbreaking film, and like Easter, seems to be at least partly about the endurance of hope in the face of hostility and fear. We have been deprived of someone special by the loss of one of its makers.