To Hell and Back Again

14 Feb

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Hell and Back Again | 2011 | Director: Danfung Dennis | Site | IMDB
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Hell and Back Again is the story of soldier, Nathan Harris, who lead men into battle in Afghanistan, was shot, horribly wounded and has come home to heal and cope with life after war. Cinematically beautiful and thoughtfully edited, director Danfung Dennis, gives tremendously specific insight into the life and mind of a man home from war. Mostly consisting of honest and absorbing scenes shot very beautifully. There was one central aspect of this film that kept me feeling outside and came across slightly heavy-handed. During certain scenes of reflection the director decided to close in on the Harris’ face and fade into footage of war. Giving the impression at that very moment he was thinking about this specific time in Afghanistan. I felt the honesty of the solider interacting with his girlfriend and family contrasted with war was done well enough he did not need to insinuate what he was thinking about. It would be hard not to be moved by the soldier’s day-to-day life upon arriving home. It is vividly caught how heroic and life threatening his life was in Afghanistan. His adjustment to being home is extremely visceral. There was a strong drug abuse undertone to this film that I could not figure out if the director intentionally left out. It was that of the over medication of the soldier. He suffers life-changing wounds while at war and is heavily medicated as a result. It felt as though Harris was being intentionally portrayed as erratic and maladjusted to being home. Where as I felt like he was having reactions to being overly pain medicated. Perhaps the director did not know this or he was leaving this up to the audience to decide. I would hope he was attempting to capture life in all its complexity after a traumatic experience such as war. I only wish he chose to comment on how often soldiers arriving home are being overly medicated. Hell and Back Again deserves to be nominated for best documentary, although at times heavy-handed, it was beautifully shot and brings deserved attention to a national problem that needs to be dealt with. What does it mean to come home from war?

Hell and Back Again Trailer

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