Thursday, May 28, 2015

Korengal

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 11:28 AM

korengal.jpg


Korengal (2014; dir. Sebastian Junger
)—Here’s the second paragraph from author and former CIA man Ray McGovern’s article “How To Honor Memorial Day,” which was published a couple days ago on Antiwar.com: “First, let's be clear on at least this much: the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq—so far—and the 2,350 killed in Afghanistan—so far—did not ‘fall.’ They were wasted on no-win battlefields by politicians and generals—cheered on by neocon pundits and mainstream ‘journalists’—almost none of whom gave a rat's patootie about the real-life-and-death troops. They were throwaway soldiers.” And here’s what American combat veteran Brendan O’Byrne says to anyone who tells him he shouldn’t feel guilty about his Afghanistan tour because he did what he had to do when he was over there: “I didn’t have to do shit.” O’Byrne is just one of many soft-featured young men with thousand-yard stares and true war stories to tell who were interviewed in Junger’s remarkable sequel to his 2010 documentary Restrepo, which chronicled the daily lives of several soldiers stationed in a remote, hostile and unforgiving Afghan outpost named after a beloved medic killed in action. Restrepo trafficked in immediate, spontaneous, unpredictable wartime experience; Korengal is a more
meditative and complex work that asks for—and often receives—both truth and some measure of reconciliation from its subjects. By giving these men the time and space to articulate and explore their personal codes (“You have to respect the enemy”), their provisional joys (“What’s not to like about a giant machine gun?”) and their ever-present fears (“Damn! Life is getting weird up here…”) Korengal performs an invaluable public service. Their many and varied testimonials wind up saying the same thing all meaningful war memorials say: never forget. Grade: A

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