Restrepo (15)

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The Independent Culture

"Integrity" isn't a word one hears much in regard to the US presence in Afghanistan, but this fly-on-the-battlements documentary finds some of it among the soldiers of Battle Company's Second Platoon. War correspondents Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger spent over a year filming in the rocky, jagged terrain of the Korengal Valley, one of the country's most dangerous outposts.

What becomes painfully, viscerally apparent is that these young men are fighting for each other more than for a "cause" which, with the Taliban lurking unseen in the hills, is as remote to them as the hole they're posted in. The most significant event is their establishing a second redoubt in the valley, named Restrepo in honour of a popular medic killed there in July 2007. His death seemed to have galvanised his colleagues in enduring the worst. The hearts and minds of the ancient Afghan elders appear unmoved by their efforts, however, which perhaps explains why the troops began pulling out of the territory last year. An air of futility seeps through, though as a document of comradeship under fire this is unexpectedly moving.

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