Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Restrepo" & "The Tillman Story" Documentaries

Watched two documentaries lately that had a lot in common with one another.

Both about the people in the military, both closely related to books that I've read and both excellent... with that excellence leading me to a sense of disgust about the military leadership featured in one of the films.

First movie was "Restrepo" from filmmaker Tim Hetherington and writer Sebastian Junger on their time spent embedded with a US military unit in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. The movie is the companion piece to Junger's written account "War" and shows a portrait of just how chaotic and messed up combat can be.

I wrote of this in my review, but I was struck by the idea of someone doing a tour in such extreme and violent conditions and then (hopefully) returning home to live a normal life. I'd say my thought was that it takes a special person to be able to do transition back seamlessly, but really... I don't know how anyone could compartmentalize the type of combat written of and then return home without issue.


Second movie (and the one featuring the military leadership) was "The Tillman Story" by Amir Bar-Lev. It's about former NFL player Pat Tillman, killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan and covers much of the same territory as the Jon Krakauer book on Tillman, "Where Men Win Glory" (which I reviewed here). Both the movie and book portrayed Tillman as someone shamelessly exploited by his military chain of command after his death.

The books and movies referenced here depict the death as well as emotional scars that can come from combat. What's so troubling is how someone (like Tillman) could sign up for that, and then have the circumstances of his life and death manipulated for a political goal... in this case, support of a given war.

Really good books and movies all four... just not the happy and fluffy kind of really good.