a film by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington
by Sebastian Junger
Twelve Books, 287 pp., $26.99
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, journalists with extensive war-reporting resumés, began following a group of American combat soldiers during their fifteen-month deployment in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. The film they have made, Restrepo, is everything The Hurt Locker is not: authentic, unsentimental, modest, nuanced. Of all the films that have come out of our ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is closest to The War Tapes, an unflinching documentary assembled from a year’s worth of footage taken on the ground by a handful of New Hampshire National Guardsmen in the early years of the Iraq war. But unlike that film, which was shot, for the most part, with helmet- and dash-mounted cameras that showed, explicitly, the experience of individual soldiers, Restrepo takes a small step to the side, widening the lens to take in the whole group, the young, eager, ripped professional soldiers we pay to enforce our foreign policy and do our bidding at the end of a gun.