“Restrepo” Is Timely Viewing for Independence Weekend

There is one fitting way to celebrate movie watching and the spirit of "Independence Day" over the long holiday weekend -- the compelling documentary "Restrepo" which continues to open throughout the country.

You have to look hard to find it, but it's ultimately worth the trip and important to see an unbiased view of the combat in which we're sending our soldiers to fight.

Journalists Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger (author of "The Perfect Storm") each spent five months with a platoon of U.S. soldiers in the deadly Korengal Valley in Afghanistan to make the film. And at times you really feel like you're there with the troops, with the soldiers rarely even looking into the camera during times of mayhem or downtime.

"Our goal was to become part of the platoon, to show what it feels like to be a soldier in combat," says Hetherington.

"The guiding principle for us was to think, does watching the movie make me feel the same way as being out there?" asks Junger. That question is answered when the first shell goes off in the film. Yes.

Hetherington admits shooting the film was "a roller coaster ride" as each of the journalists logged on five months with the troops in a film that covers a year of small successes and big heartbreak.

But one noticeable aspect of this -- the filmmakers never become part of the story. They never appear in one shot in the film. Junger said this is all part of keeping the story about the troops, which doesn't happen on the nightly news. This photo still wasn't even part of the movie.

"There's this weird trend where the television correspondents are turning themselves into the subjects of their own on-airs reports," said Junger. "They've become the lead actor in a drama."

"It must work ratings wise," he added. "But as journalist it puzzles me."

He and Hetherington avoided that at all costs.

"We're journalists," he said. "The god we tried to bow down to was the truth."

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