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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 27 March 2017
really good documentary it looks like a terrible place but I won't say it was the best war film going, still get the impression the yanks are too gun hole and don't seem to think too much about what they are doing, you just can't beat the British soldiers they are simply the best in the world.
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on 5 June 2017
A truly brilliant film / documentary showing first person accounts of their tour of duty. I loved it.
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on 19 January 2015
Worth watching but not necessarily to keep.
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on 26 July 2016
If you like war docs this is a must watch
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on 23 July 2017
Interesting movie
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on 21 November 2016
Whilst a true story and filmed by the soldiers themselves I feel there are far better films of this nature out there. I don`t think that it`s the actual footage that`s the problem, I think it`s the way it was put together and that is the fault of the editors etc.
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on 4 January 2016
Poor guys died for nothing
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on 25 June 2017
Great
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on 5 September 2011
The Anglo-American military involvement in Afghanistan has now dragged on for ten years, and sadly a lot of British and American soldiers have been killed, and that's not to mention the Afghans who have had it worse for longer. I bought and watched the documentaries Restrepo and Armadillo out of respect for the documentary makers who risked their lives to make these films, and to see what I could learn about this intractable conflict from watching them...

Restrepo is a truly brilliant documentary. The first thing to say about it is that it was made in co-operation with National Geographic, and was therefore politically constrained from the start. That's why there is no overt or explicit critique of US policy in the film, and little context-setting. Instead, the film makers rather cunningly went for realism, which becomes it's own critique. One scene after another makes you realise the total futility of trying to control and dominate a place like the Korengal Valley militarily. This documentary is really stunning, and could not get more real. The opening sequence, where the vehicle the cameraman is driving in hits an IED, is as shocking as anything else, perhaps the most shocking sequence. But there's plenty more action--the American soldiers come under fire almost every day, and when things are quiet they go out looking for a fight. The reviewer SCM rightly comments on the naivete of the American captain who attempts, but fails, to win the hearts and minds of the locals, who are after all the Taliban, or Taliban supporters. The brilliance of this documentary lay in the de-briefing interviews. In one of these interviews a soldier reflects on the bungled attempt to curry favour with the locals, "...hearts and minds was not working--we're loud, we're obnoxious, we're immature at times; going in and acting like their friend doesn't work." That was a glimmer of self-awareness coming through, after the event. Another soldier remarked, in response to the cliche that you did what you had to do, "I didn't have to do any of it." This awakening comes too late, one feels. There is so much more to say about this documentary, but I'll confine myself to the observation that it was superbly edited (by Michael Levine) and artfully filmed (by the late, great, Tim Hetherington) with beautiful sweeping shots, and many telling close-ups.

Watching Armadillo, which in its own way is a superb documentary, made an interesting counterpoint to Restrepo. This film is equally artful to Restrepo, but a more orthodox effort: the film makers take the traditional approach of following a group of soldiers from training to deployment. The documentary is beautifully shot borrowing classic cinematic technique and narrative. Some reviewers have commented that Armadillo is more real than Restrepo, somehow more engaged. I agree that the film makers get close to their subject--the Danish soldiers, who by turns come across as macho and spartan, and then not much more than schoolboy porno enthusiasts. The main subject followed is a young man who seems to be out to prove himself, which he finally does by getting wounded, much to everyone's admiration. The whole thing is such a joke, and that young man is headed for a lot of nightmares. But I digress. Back to the action: the Danes go out on a "domination patrol" (no irony!). The vanguard patrol move like a herd of elephants--the cameraman has lots of time to film civilians fleeing in advance of a firefight. On go the Danes, one of them falling over after losing his balance. Finally, bang, bang, bang. They bag some enemy. But the enemy hit back a couple of days later--"they're everywhere", comments one of the Danish soldiers, referring to the Taliban. And indeed they are--they're all over this documentary. In both Restrepo and Armadillo we get to see the western soldiers talking to civilians, some of whom no doubt later pick up weapons to take a pop at the occupiers. Of course, you have to be sensitive to pick up on this, but it was as plain as day to me--and its exactly why the western armies will never win in Afghanistan: they don't know the enemy; the enemy, however, knows them all too well.

Both these documentaries are involved, engaging, and brilliantly filmed. I can't recommend one over the other--I recommend you watch them both.
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This documentary account of a year-long deployment into "the most dangerous place in the world" follows a group of soldiers as they fight in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan.

If you have been accustomed to conventional war stories, or films, this may be a bit of a shock. There are no dramatic set piece battles, in fact you never see the enemy at all. The combat that is show falls into two categories - close ups of soldiers firing automatic weapons at unseen targets and calling in air strikes on distant hill sides, or the chaotic aftermath of ambushes where the soldiers struggle to regain the initiative of combat. In both cases it is never really clear what is going on. However, it needs to be said that this portrayal is not out of keeping with other accounts of this type of combat.

But in the end it was not the story of the foot soldiers - the boots on the ground - that was most remarkable, it was the behavior shown by the leadership of the men. In one scene the commander of Second Platoon is seen in a meeting with local village elders. In this meeting he constantly swears as he talks, and while I have no idea how literal the translator would be, I can see how this would impress the leadership of the village. Equally at one time he said (I'm not quoting here) - that you need to put aside all that has happened in the past and work with me on making things better - "I've wiped the slate clean here". Well that's a wonderful idea, but it's also deeply naïve. Later in the film the same leader talks to his men after a number of troops for their "sister platoon" have been killed. He basically tells his men that they will be back in combat soon and that they will be able to gain vengeance for what has happened - less than one breathe after that he invites his men to pray. It's a deeply disturbing scene that links violence and religion.

If you can take one thing away from this film it seems to be the idea that "lions being lead by donkeys" was not just a product of the British army in WW1.

Recommended, if somewhat uncomfortable, viewing.
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