Hell and Back Again (2011) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home? Hell and Back Again is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers these questions with a power and .. Runtime: 88 mins Release Date: 05 Oct 2011
Letting the Images Speak for Themselves (by dalefried)
Sometimes the power in the imagery of a film alone tells an ambiguous tale that can be taken in many directions by a viewer. With the plethora of documentaries on the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures pushing you this way or that, it was incredibly refreshing to see one that had its intentions somewhere else. Just present the war and its impacts and let the chips fall where they may.People made a big deal last year about Restrepo showing the intensity of moments in combat. That film, while great, doesn't even touch what young Danfung Dennis achieves here. The up close intimacy of the war <more>
moments took the most brazen courage to compile, but the shots are so beautifully constructed you truly can touch the daring and fear of those moments. I have only felt this before in narrative films like The Hurt Locker.But the footage of the struggle this troubled soldier endures in his recovery from crippling injuries is equally compelling, frightening and heartbreaking. The sewing together of the two worlds presented has a power all its own.I really believe this amazing young filmmaker, who really gives his all to the art in this film, deserves recognition. It won the documentary jury prize at Sundance. It now has been shortlisted by the Oscars for nomination consideration. These are so deserved.
I started off watching this documentary honestly because I was bored one night and wanted to watch a documentary. Being fluent in Oscar news, I decided I would be cultured and try to watch one of the documentaries that was nominated. After some searching around I had success in finding Hell and Back Again on Instant Watch. I was a little skeptic at first, because I am not big on the whole Afghan War documentaries. I hate how directors try to shove their ideas down my throat about the war, but I found Hell and Back Again much different.I was entranced by how many ways the movie was pulling the <more>
opinion of the war. It first shows an injured Marine named Nathan who is crippled because of the war. Yet, the moment I began think it was an anti-war movie, Nathan is talking about how he wants to get back onto the front lines! I had to pause the movie and try to wrap my head around this and decide whether this was pro or anti-war. Then it hit me like a sack of bricks, this movie is not pro or anti, it's an actual documentary. It's what a documentary is meant to be, a picture of real life and a gap for the viewer to decide what is right or wrong. I un-paused the movie and continued to watch. The rest of movie was as gripping and emotion provoking as the first fifteen minutes. The director managed to flip between the footage of the war and the home life of Nathan. You could see Nathan back home still recovering physically from the war while at the same time the 'flashback' clips of the war lets the audience remember that there is more going on than we can see. As an audience you are spell bound. You see Nathan playing Modern Warfare 3 and you wonder what is going on in his head. You see Nathan playing with a gun and you move to the edge of your seats and begin to think that something very real could happen right here. The sheer tension created in this documentary is massive and is not lost on audiences. One of my favorite scenes in this movie is when Nathan and his wife are looking at a new house and Nathan opens a door. At that moment the movie flicks over to clips from Nathan overseas as he and his fellow soldiers are kicking down doors and then the movie flicks back to Nathan back at the new house where he is looking like he is about to throw up. The raw emotion in that scene really got me going. Overall I was pleasantly surprised at this movie. As a documentary it filled the requirements of not only being entertaining and thought provoking, but also being available to the public. The story was interesting and the people in the story were very real to me. I am giving this movie a 10 out of 10 rating and highly recommend that if you can spare 80 minutes of your life for this movie, then watch it.
Amazing documentary that brings you back, or shows you what it's like before and after. (by sudano6890)
I want to start off by saying if you don't have any type of military service, I personally don't think you have a right to leave a review of this documentary.As an OEF veteran, this documentary was really intense and emotional to watch, but only because it brought me back to that country. My tour wasn't anything close to as rough as his, but I know what it's like on some level and I can relate in a general sense. It really shows you how the war in Afghanistan is with no media twists. It shows how we are truly doing our best to help the people of Afghanistan, and also shows his <more>
life after the deployment as well. Many people think a soldiers experience with war ends the moment he returns home. This is stuff that stays with you for life, and I really like how they show you both during and after.This is how it is, so if you want to see what the war in Afghanistan is like without any biased media distorting the information, watch this.
A great documentary that will bring out different things from different people (by akeason1)
Many documentaries have some sort of bias, whether it be "pro" or "anti" something or other. "To Hell and Back Again" is different in that it will probably expose one's opinions without really having one itself. The documentary follows the life of Sgt Nathan Harris and his wife Ashley who live in a small town in North Carolina. Nathan is a marine who, on his third tour of duty, is wounded in his leg and has to go through extensive and painful therapy. Danfung Dennis cuts between these images and those he took earlier of Nathan leading his platoon in an <more>
intense tour in Afghanistan. The contrasts are incredible and help emphasize everything that a marine goes through both abroad and at home. Some images are severe, such as the deaths of an American LCP and an Afghan soldier both die off screen but you do see their bodies moments after The footage of Nathan at home, however, is what may bring out very different responses. He is obviously in extreme pain and has a harder life, yet is still very gung-ho and dreams of a full recovery and return to the front line which got a gasp of disbelief by some in my theater . He also is very interested in firearms, and there are several shots of him and his pistols which he keeps near his bed and which he trains his wife how to use. She, meanwhile, must deal with the stress of caring for an injured husband while still performing her daily routine. Together, they see people in their community who are quite positive , the marine doctors who are hopeful for his recovery , and attend a very sad memorial for recently KIA soldiers at the base.To anyone who is staunchly pro-military, the footage should be quite uplifting. Nathan is determined to recover and he does noticeably improve though as of April 2011 is not fully healed and the support of his community and especially his wife is heartwarming. Those who are not so gung-ho will probably be shocked by the footage. In the Q&A with the director and Ashley after the screening, one woman asked Ashley if she was scared for her life at all a reference to Nathan's constant gun wielding, which she wasn't . Regardless of your leanings though this is an excellent documentary and should not be missed.
The Terror of War and the terror of modern society . (by AMichaelL)
This is one of the most amazing documentaries I have ever seen. The imagery is stunning, and the filming is pristine - especially considering the conditions - the camera and editing are high quality, and the shakiness is pretty subdued.Most importantly, the stories are interesting and all too real. The editing, which juxtaposes the return of the wounded Nathan Harris to America with the striking images of war is chilling. There is simply no other film which actually shows what it might be like to actually have PTSD. The soldiers in this documentary are all too real, never joking with the <more>
camera while in combat, and coming close to death numerous times. If you want proof, look closely, despite the presence of the camera, few soldiers ever look into it. This may have been a directorial call, but more than likely, it is because they are real soldiers, and one second looking at a camera - especially in such hostile territory - could cost you your life.This movie is something special, and I doubt we will see anything like it again. Honestly - props to this filmmaker Dennis - because he has some serious guts/grit.
A compelling portrayal of the reality of soldiers and their families. (by dannielleangelic)
Three generations of my family have served their country, with members in almost every branch of the United States Armed Forces. While I decided not to follow in the footsteps of aunts, uncles, cousins, or even my parents, my baby brother did. The day after Katrina hit New Orleans he enlisted in the Marine Corp. It was his unit that was filmed for this documentary.These men are not actors, they are not trying to "play it up" for the camera and any insinuations to the contrary are beyond offensive. These are trained soldiers who sign their lives away to the government for years at a <more>
time, some in hopes of earning school funds, and others a career. Their main worries are to do as commanded, and stay alive long enough to be able to reach their end goals. I watched this documentary with my eyes wide open, with the personal knowledge of how these events changed someone I love.The beauty of Hell and Back Again is that it allows the rest of the world to see what soldiers and their families live with. We send our soldiers off knowing that at best they will be forever psychologically scarred and at worst we receive that dreaded knock on the door. When they do return we have to help them adjust back to their "normal" lives. So even though Sgt. Harris is the focus, this really is the story of every soldier who has been in a combat zone.I hope that this film helps people understand that even though many have life altering physical injuries, the hardest part for most will be the life-long mental battle. Only through the genius of editing that follows the emotional path rather than the chronological, can we see those highs and lows with such intensity.In the end I can only repeat what I told my brother after I saw this film. It allowed me to understand him better, not only as a soldier, but as a changed man. And even though he is still a pain in the rear, I am glad that he made it home alive, issues and all.
Hell and Back Again is a war film that should be shown to teenagers rather than something like Battle: Los Angeles. This is a true account of the war in Afghanistan, showing real-life footage of the war taken from the director himself.We follow around Nathan Harris, a twenty-year old Marine sergeant, who has returned from his six month tour in Afghanistan in a wheelchair. Shortly before the end of his deployment, he is shot by a sniper, with the bullet going through his right hip, punctured his hip socket, before finally collapsing to break his leg. It's a messy scenario, and Harris will <more>
need a full year of rehab before returning to Afghanistan.In the meantime, Harris is trying to adjust to civilian life, while coping with an injury, and is being cared for by his high school sweetheart Ashley. He always seems to be on some sort of medication, and is clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. During this time, the film is intercut with combat footage, showing Harris leading his men, strategizing, sometimes stressing, and shooting. It's effective and serves purpose because it real and not fictionalized or dramatized for theatrical purposes.Some sequences, arguably some of the best, show the Marines talking to the Afghanistan civilians who are disgusted by the Marines invading their area, complicating farming and disrupting their family life. They give the Afghanistan people some humanity and distinction rather than we Americans declaring them "stupid terrorists." One of the strongest things a documentary can do is obviously inform, and Hell and Back Again shows us a world we don't like to think about.Although the film is poignant, relative, and undeniably interesting, at some points it feels a bit too distended from its actual topic. It's trying to showcase the struggle and inevitably complex adaptation from one life to another, yet it seems to be too sidetracked by showing a number of from the Afghanistan War. And sometimes, the results feels a tad too cinematic by showing a stressed out, barely functional Nathan with his head in his hands, while audio from combat is playing over the scene. It's things like that in which a documentary tries to be too much like a fictional film, by splicing up its own narrative and thoughts in the process.It still doesn't derail what an incredibly moving film Hell and Back Again is. I recently discussed with a friend about the abundance of media coverage returning soldiers get. I find it to be extremely necessary to show our troops coming home, and that we should never forget the fact that freedom is a lot of things, but not free. I was also told by my grandmother that when soldiers used to come home, they came home and that was it. The Vietnam Vets didn't even get a look from bystanders in the same directions. We have become graphic nationalists in just a few decades and here is a beautifully crafted documentary showing the hardships soldiers face when the battle comes to an end and is transported overseas in your own living room. It seems one doesn't go back to Hell, but rather remains in it.Starring: Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris and Ashley Harris. Directed by: Danfung Dennis.
Very good filming and cinematography. (by happychaitalibhagat)
Very deep and eye opening documentary about not only a life changed but a marriage changed by an injury in war. Amazing raw footage as well as aftermath after returning home and beginning the healing process. You really feel the pain he's going through. Makes you think about how many lives are affected by the war and how sad it is. Especially for the people caught in the middle. Wow. Sobering.