Tomorrow night, National Geographic Channel presents “Restrepo”, a film that shows the experience of a platoon of American soldiers assigned to one of the most dangerous outposts in Afghanistan. There is no narrator or host. We are shown the scenes as they happen. Here’s a brief synopsis and profiles of the director and producer of “Restrepo”. I also provide you with two video clips from the film.
Restrepo chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, Restrepo, named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: The cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 94-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.
Restrepo film directors Sebastian Junger (left) and Tim Hetherington (right) at the Restrepo outpost in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. Junger and Hetherington jointly directed, filmed and produced the movie ‘Restrepo’ from June 2007 to January 2010. (Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, September 2007) ©Tim A Hetherington
Korengal Valley, Kunar Priovince, Afghanistan: A soldier from Battle Company smokes a cigarette during Operation Rock Avalanche. (Photo Credit: © Outpost Films/ 2010 Tim Hetherington, from the award winning documentary, Restrepo.)
The war in Afghanistan has become highly politicized, but soldiers rarely take part in that discussion. Our intention was to capture the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves. Their lives were our lives: We did not sit down with their families, we did not interview Afghans, we did not explore geopolitical debates. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one’s political beliefs. Beliefs can be a way to avoid looking at reality. This is reality. — Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
TIM HETHERINGTON – Producer / Director / Camera
Tim Hetherington is an acclaimed photographer and filmmaker who has reported on conflict for more than 10 years. He was the only photographer to live behind rebel lines during the recent Liberian civil war – work that culminated in the film Liberia: An Uncivil War and the book “Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold” (Umbrage, 2009). Hetherington is the recipient of four World Press Photo prizes, including World Press Photo of the Year (2008), and an Alfred I. duPont Broadcast Award (2009) for his work in Afghanistan. A native of the UK, he is based in New York and is a contributing photographer for Vanity Fair Magazine. Hetherington’s book of photographs, ”Infidel,” with an introduction by Sebastian Junger, is a collection of images taken during his time with the men of Second Platoon and was published in October 2010 by Chris Boot Ltd. More information on Hetherington can be found at www.timhetherington.com.
SEBASTIAN JUNGER – Producer / Director / Camera
New York-based writer and journalist Sebastian Junger is the best-selling author of “The Perfect Storm,” “Fire” and “A Death in Belmont.” He first reported from Afghanistan in 1996 and, four years later, was one of the last Westerners to accompany legendary guerrilla fighter Ahmed Shah Massoud (while reporting for National Geographic) during his war against the Taliban. Junger has reported for Vanity Fair Magazine, where he is a contributing editor, from many war zones across the world: He was trapped in Monrovia during the Liberian civil war in 2003, caught in Sierra Leone during the civil war of 2000 and very briefly held by “oil rebels” in the Niger Delta in 2006. His October 1999 article in Vanity Fair, “The Forensics of War,” won a National Magazine Award for Reporting. He has also won an Alfred I. duPont Broadcast Award for his cinematography while embedded with American soldiers for ABC News. Junger’s latest best-selling book, “War,” is about his time in the Korengal Valley with Second Platoon. (Twelve,www.twelvebooks.com.)
Now we have four video clips from the movie.
Restrepo airs on National Geographic Channel Monday night at 9 East and Pacific.