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Review: “Restrepo”

Restrepo: “Simply an incredible piece of film-making that allows the viewer to wear the uniform, then lock and load for 90 minutes.” – Matt Colvin, 29Nov2010

I arrived back in the city just as the sun was going down today. This is my favorite time to look across the Hudson at NYC because the light at that time sets the city on fire. Though the bus ride was lacking, I felt some kind of energy in the city today. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but something was there. Maybe it was because I was home where there is no fast pace, no slow pace, there’s just no pace. I don’t mind that for a while, but I think I start to go stir crazy after a shorter amount of time now. Stepping off that bus fueled me for another interesting night. I was feeling good. Partly because it was so beautiful out and partly because I was heading to IAVA to watch the premier of “Restrepo” on Nat Geo.

The documentary takes place over a 15 month period in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. This place has been named the most dangerous place on earth and for good reason after you see what these soldiers had to endure. I have seen this part of the country from above and even from up there it looked menacing. TICs (troops in contact) were almost a nightly event as we flew overhead. Now to see what it was like through an unbiased lens and through the eyes of those that lived it just puts those troops on the ground that much higher on a pedestal for me.

The movie showcases every aspect of the deployment, from the pre-deployment joking and “living it up” to the first glimpse of the outpost where life is to be lived for the next 15 months to the crackle of a firefight and the sobbing of a soldier who just lost a friend. This was an amazing film that sheds light on every emotion in the human spectrum and allows the war to be personified through Second Platoon. From the opening sequence the viewer is thrust right into war in Afghanistan this very day. The viewer sees the fire fights as they happen, the lulls after the storm, and the attitudes of those soldiers while they try to find some sense of normalcy in “the shit.” It’s captivating yet heartbreaking to watch these guys stern and stone faced recounting the loss of several friends including “Doc” Restrepo for which the Outpost and movie are named.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch it tonight on Nat Geo, you can pick up a copy here. I highly encourage anyone who has ever truly wanted to see what war is like to watch this film. It’s the truest most accurate depiction of today’s warfighter to this point and has already won 2010 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary. If you don’t believe me, then check out Rotten Tomatoes or IMDb to confirm what I have already told you. It’s even up for an Oscar and if this doesn’t win, the system is flawed. The Hurt Locker was fiction, this is real life.

While you’re shopping for stocking stuffers, buy a couple of copies and send them to your Congressmen so they can fully grasp what our veterans are going through and what we need when we come back so that some changes can be made. There are 2.2 million other stories like this that will never be told. Hopefully this particular story will educate everyone in between.

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