Release Date: February 9th, 2007 (Film Forum) by The Documentary Group.
Directed by Richard E. Robbins.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the experiences of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Operation Homecoming covers much of the same territory that last year’s equally powerful documentary The Ground Truth covered. The NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) collected 1600 writing samples from U.S. soldiers and their families which include poetry, memoirs, letters, journals, essays and some fiction. Authors such as Tim O’Brien, Tobias Wolf and James Salter contribute their own perspectives on the war while celebrities such as Robert Duvall and Beau Bridges lend their voices to read the soldiers’ writings. These writings give descriptive accounts of their experiences both on and of the battlefield. When they’re not in combat risking their lives, they suffer through boredom and mundane things such as the same kind of food day after day. Director Richard E. Robbins does a terrific job of mixing these readings with visuals such as archival news footage to keep you engaged. A particularly lively animated sequence shows a soldier trying to aim his gun during combat and, in a scary way, it looks like one of those violent video games. The images of doctors tending to wounded young soldiers are difficult, yet necessary to watch. Toward the end of the film, Robbins includes a powerful montage of hundreds of photographs of soldiers killed while on duty. SPIRITUAL VALUE: There’s nothing more traumatizing than putting your life on the line while smelling the stench of war day after day. This documentary doesn’t really delve into PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) which plagues every soldier when he/she comes back home nor does it explore any real social, political or personal justifications for the soldiers to risk their lives, which would have been more thought-provoking. However, the soldiers’ emotion-filled writings do help to give you an idea of how concurrently human and ugly war truly feels, much unlike it is glamorized in many Hollywood films.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: A powerful, engaging and very moving documentary.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
The "O" Menu