Hell And Back Again

Hell And Back Again (2011)

Director Danfung Dennis follows Marine Sgt Nathan Harris as he begins recovery from a combat injury sustained in Afghanistan, during the final week of his third tour of duty. I was expecting something more akin to the brilliant Body of War or even Restrepo, but this film, though beautifully shot, fails to give us anything more to reflect on than Harris's blood and guts rhetoric. I am unsure if the director should have provided more of a voice to the film, or he did the right thing by letting Sgt Harris tell his own story. By the end of the film, Harris had become so unsympathetic in his dogged determination that his job as a solider was to be a killer and his reckless gunplay in the family home, that I started to question the obvious devotion his wife has for him.

Conversation starters

  • Is Nathan Harris merely the product of his Marine training, or is there something larger at work in this film?
  • Do I have a naive expectation that a soldier will have considerations beyond killing the enemy and self preservation?
  • What's the best film you've seen about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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