Wednesday, July 14, 2010


This Sundance award winning documentary is currently in limited release and will open more broadly in the coming weeks. The film followed a platoon of soldiers manning a remote outpost in Afghanistan's Konegal Valley for one year. It is moving, sad, painful, profound, and demands attention. It follows only the soldiers and gives the viewer the freedom to add perspective.

Given that this is the valley that the U.S. finally chose to abandon in April of this year as a hopeless exercise in a strategically compromised location makes it diffcult if not impossible to view this as anything but a pointless part of the war effort. The filmed meetings with the elders of the village would be laughable if they weren't such a serious part of the misperception. To hear the captain saying in a slow emphatic voice, for translation, that what we are doing will bring you money and jobs demonstrates the futility of the effort just as much as the isolation of the young soldiers in the beautiful but harsh environment of the valley battle zone with its firefights.

The personal charm, boyish behavior, and discipline of the soldiers is both engaging and heartbreaking to watch. Overall, it's troubling.


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