Restrepo   

by director Tim Hetherington

I had no idea when I first went to Afghanistan in 2007 that I would end up making a feature-length film. I guess that's a strange thing to admit—but then Restrepo is no ordinary movie. My colleague Sebastian Junger and I have reported on conflicts around the world for over ten years, and this film is a distillation of everything we have come to understand about young men and war. The story line is straight forward—we follow a platoon of U.S. soldiers from Battle Company‚Ä®stationed in a remote mountainous area of Afghanistan over the course of their deployment. But the circumstances become extraordinary... a couple of months in and nearly a fifth of all fighting in Afghanistan is taking place in this remote 6-mile long valley; 70% of U.S. bombs are being dropped in the surrounding area, and Battle Company is running a casualty rate of one in four killed or wounded.

The movie takes its title from Juan Restrepo, the medic of Second Platoon who gets killed early on during the deployment. The soldiers build a small outpost on the side of a rugged mountain and name it in his honor. The place has no running water or electricity, no phones or internet, no simple amenities like chairs. It clings high up at the far end of the valley, on the edge of insurgent-held territory—and could well be the most exposed outpost in one of the remotest places where U.S. forces are stationed.

Our idea was simple—let's make the most visceral war film you've ever seen. We wanted to show you things you've never seen before, take you as close as you can get into real combat, present you with a grunt's-eye view of the war, offer you a peek into the young male psyche. We don't present you with politicians or generals or maps or propaganda. For 93 minutes we'll take you on a combat tour with all its humor, fear, sadness and excitement.

There was a brotherhood out there, and this movie is about that brotherhood—a glimpse through the keyhole into a room few people will ever know. The men of Second Platoon have seen the movie, their wives have seen it, and Vietnam vets have seen it. In their different ways they have all told us: "No one understands why we're so messed up, and no one understands why we want to go back. This movie explains it all."

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