Outpost (“OP”) Restrepo. Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. 2008. A film still from the documentary RESTREPO by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger. Image © Outpost Films
The soldiers of Second Platoon built a remote outpost and named it “Restrepo,” in honor of their medic, PFC Juan Restrepo, who was killed in action.
And the story of “OP Restrepo” is as basely human as they come.
Shot during the period of May 2007 to July 2008, “Restrepo,” a new feature-length documentary film, chronicles the story of a U.S. Platoon deployed to the Korengal valley of Afghanistan, a remote six mile long valley near the border of Pakistan: one of the most dangerous postings of the war.
A part of me was shaken after viewing. Little is left to doubt of the reality, when you follow second platoon through the gunfire over the next hour and a half.
The beauty in “Restrepo,” is that it doesn’t offer conclusions.
Missions are unclear. There are no interviews with generals. Any questions about why second platoon is here, and why the men in charge make the decisions they do are not answers you’ll find. You’re watching a family trying to survive; only this family is heavily armed and fond of air support.
In the quiet moments, and they’re there, you watch boys coming of age. Men are formed through camaraderie, loss, and hope. After a good friend is lost on the battlefield, you’re with them, watching friends cry.
The filmmakers wanted the audience to feel they had experienced a 94 minute deployment. And, considering the wide range of debate after the film ended, it mostly accomplished this goal, for others, it provided conversation into the night. Overall, the quiet beauty is that a small part of you begins to understand.
The press packet stated it best: “Beliefs can be a way to avoid looking at reality. This is reality.” Draw your own conclusion.
Your own experience of it will be as unique as the one on screen.
Playing in limited release in New York and Los Angeles.
Starring: The men of Second Platoon.
Rated: R, for warfare violence and language.
Should you go? Unless you’re vehemently opposed to documentaries, yes.