The official Sebastian Junger community
WOW It's like Disney meets war. Are you fucking kididing me Sebastian?
As soon as I saw NatGeo in the beginning of the credits I knew....
FFS I saw more realism on the nightly news when I was a kid during the Vietnam War.
Sebastian I read you in Vanity Fair and read Perfect Storm and saw the movie. All good stuff.
You have sold your soul....Sad to be you...
But I bet your living large aren't you?
How on earth did this sanitized "war" movie win an Academy Award nomination?
I don't normally seek out this tiresome signing up shit but I had to tell you S.
Now I'm going to Netflix to tell the them same because I am outraged.
Dear Ellen -
Thanks for your comments...I find your reaction kind of fascinating. What, specifically, did you not like about the movie? You neglected to say. The film seems to have become a real blotter-test for people; anti-war people seem to think it confirms their views, as do "security hawks." But all reactions are interesting to me and I'd love to hear yours in greater detail. By the way, does "living large" mean living a luxurious life because of the huge amounts of money made by documentary films? I DO hope you're kidding.
Mr. Junger, you are a pro so therefore I understand your patience with me...for some reason I was just so shocked at this movie, expecting more realism because you spent a year embedded with them. Yes I'm anti-war but not a fanatic, I mean people have to defend themselves now and then but this war is ridiculous imho, so I guess that's the bottom line but I will try to explain more. I even have to wonder if Netflix edited the movie...but they usually don't do that to the best of my knowledge.
For instance, we meet Restrepo right at the beginning, about 30 seconds in the airplane. Then that's it. As an audience member, I was not captivated by this character. I'm sorry. Perhaps that was not the point of the movie but simply a send off to a larger dynamic, I don't know.
Then we have the third party aspect. Restropo's friends who are so sad about losing him. And I am so sorry this man died. I hate our young people being over there dying for ......nothing.....imho.
The movie continues when the company reaches their post. Boring times for them, dealing with a different culture, nothing going on, local aggravation, then occasional gunfire, a wayward cow....well.. then we get to the boys one by one telling their snippet in a green room somewhere. And that's kind of it.
Don't take it personally Sebastian, perhaps it was the mood I was in. I have followed your work over the years which is excellent (I have your book Perfect Storm) but Restropo didn't do it for me.
I still think NatGeo made you sanitize it but you didn't hear it from me :)
Okay so you're not living large lol....cool
Hi Ellen -
Thanks for your honesty. I'm not really sure what to say...there was very little footage of Restrepo because he was killed before we got to spend much time with him. There was fighting...there were civilian casualties from a US airstrike...there were soldiers who were killed. One scene shows a dead American soldier being carried off the battlefield by his sobbing platoon mates. In terms of realism, I'm not sure what more you would ask for in a war film. I mean specifically, what did you think we left out? Why would Nat Geo "sanitize" the film and leave in civilian casualties - including children? I'm really not sure what you mean. If there's a documentary that is more "realistic" than our film I would love to know the title so I could watch it. Arguable The Anderson Platoon is more realistic, but that was from Vietnam and - like our movie - had absolutely no political opinion. But there was a hell of a lot more fighting. But that;s because it was Vietnam...
Our film has been pretty roundly applauded - by both the Left and the Right - for its unvarnished realism. Not everyone has liked the film, but even our critics felt it was incredibly realistic. You literally might be the only person I have communicated with who didnt think so. Regardless, it has been nice to hear your thoughts. If you have responses to the questions I asked, above, i'd be interested to hear them.
Sebastian, let me begin by saying I loved the film. I have the up-most respect for you to put yourself in danger to capture the realism that vets see "over there." I loved the film, from the get go, I knew that there wouldn't be so much more of the combat effect cause we want you to stay safe! Maybe because i am a patriot, maybe it because I am a vet, or maybe because I love journalism and the truth behind the story. But Restrepo in my opinion is a wonderful film. I enjoy that you take your critics with respect and admiration, most of the people that "hate" on your film refer to it as a "war movie," although it is a movie, and it is about war, PEOPLE IT IS THE TRUE ACCOUNT OF EVENTS! They need to understand that the film is not there for their enjoyment, it is to show you what is happening, and along the lines you meet people, these are real people, they have real thoughts, and like most of the combat vets leaving this area they have real problems. And Sebastian you did a wonderful job. I go to school for journalism, and I would be completely content if I could be half the story teller that you are. Just wanted to say thank you. Currently reading WAR looking forward to the signing in Cambridge, in June, if I am still in Boston, I will be there however I am supposed to attend Army OCS this summer. Best of luck to you in your endeavors.
Ryan A. Getek
Hi Sebastian and all,
Well I don't know what to say either.
I think the key for me is in the sentence where you said it was not a political film. Bang! That's it. I've been pondering my own uncharacteristic knee jerk reaction. That's what made me so angry because I am so anti-war given the times we live in. Unfortunately for some reason perhaps numbness on my part, the scenes you mentioned flashed by and I thought that would build into something further, something to make it an anti war film. And you know there is nothing wrong with an objective documentary (It's not you it's me ;) I'm not privvy to Nat Geo other than they are mainstream, one of the few mainstream channels I enjoy regardless.
You asked me to point out specifics. There are so many - yet I am drawing a blank. Go figure. It's more personal accounts I've heard and read about rather than movies or docs I suppose that I'm referring to.
But here's something. The weekly column in TODAY's local newspaper (The Plain Dealer, PolitiFact Check Ohio) quotes Rep. Tim Ryan as saying "from '05 to '09, we've had 1,100 soldiers commit suicide, one every 36 hours."
Every week The PD chooses a quote from a pol and analyzes it, to size it up True/False or somewhere in between for the readers. Of couse today's answer was buried inside. Guess what, it's true. I think we've all heard rumors of this situation. So imho if this is what they're telling you then it's probably worse.
Anyways, I apologize for my earlier rant but it's crazy times we live in and my hobby is paying attention to what's going on in the world and I am none to happy about it. Don't want to dis Sebastian anymore cause he doesn't deserve it, it's just a matter of opinion.
Let me begin by saying, I don't know how you could not like the movie. I am not sure what Ellen means by "sanitized". Any one who has any experience with the military knows the philosophy "Hurry up and wait". This movie illustrates daily life in the military in a combat situation. The movie is about the men at Restrepo, not necessarily about the man himself. You learn about the man through the effects he had on the soldiers with whom he served. I think Ellen needs to stop watching Platoon and other Hollywood flicks. War is not a constant battle. If it was, it would be over a lot quicker. Also, how can you say you don't support the war, but you support the troops? By supporting the troops, you support war. The job of a soldier is to defend his nation, against enemies, foreign and domestic. It is easy to say you are against war, when you live in a country that has not seen its borders attacked since the Civil War. It is also easy to say you do not support war when you don't face the need to go to war. These men willingly go to war, because their country asks them to do it. They believe in something the hippies of the 60's didn't and never will understand. It is easy to ask for peace, but all you are doing is giving your enemy time to build up for a successful attack. Every instance in man's past where he has prayed for peace, he has paid with lives. As a result, young men have had to go to the front line to set things right. Remember, it wasn't peace that put the flag in Iwo Jima. It was not peace that emptied the concentration camps. It was not peace that allowed thousands of Vietnamese refugees to come in America. It was American soldiers. The bullet is much more powerful than the flower.
I thought the documentary was fantastic, and i posted a logistical question earlier, and got a quick reply from SJ; Thanks for the info;
Just wanted to defend the film; This was as good as it gets in war reporting, as unbiased as can be. And tragic for sure. I read the book in one night and he put me solidly in those beautiful, hellish mountains.
Personally, I fear we are chasing an illusion over there, so yes, i guess you would call me anti -war ; My opinion; the logistics and history are stacked against us tremendously;
However, that was not the focus of the book / film; It had a ferocious and sustained and consistent focus on the men, their experience, and the price they all paid. That, to me , was the whole point. Not a narrative like a novel, not a political rant, not slanted, but honest and real; the definition of excellent documentary; force feeds you nothing. And it haunted my dreams for weeks to come.
I'm left wondering if honesty has anymore lost it's value in society for somebody to attack this film this way but i am old and getting older.
While I do not in total agree with the statement(s) that begin this thread, I do have to say, for me it was better having read the book also. There was more insight into Restrepo the Soldier in the book, simply b/c its a book. The movie never played itself as if it was a filmed version of the book and it was never publicized as such to the best of my knowledge. It was literally the Soldiers time while there on film. You feel the tedium at times and you feel the anxiety at others. Would love to see any footage cut and left on the digital floor, but something tells me there isn't anything left over really...Some shots of Sebastian hording instant coffee packets maybe...the soldiers hazing a superior and he taking it maybe...who knows. It was good, both are worth your time, and you won't feel as if you're repeating yourself by seeing and reading.
A Vet friend checked it out from the library, do the same if you don't want to contribute to SJ's cartel sized piles of dough... ;)
RIP Tim, your photos forever changed the way I have viewed conflicts.
I share the sentiment with most that I found Restrepo tremendously compelling.
But I will say this. A very level-headed response from Mr. Junger. Impressive. Although I am sure having your work picked apart is part of the job when it comes to writing, producing and other artisitic/journalistic endeavors.
RIP Mr. Heatherington. You and your your contributions to our world will be missed. My condolences to Mr. Junger and Mr. Heatherington's family.
I'm not sure what you think you know that Sebastion and Tim (Rest in Peace) left out, but, as a Soldier who has been in the Pech and Kunar in the last 12 months, I can't think of anything.
Imasmuch as, by your own admission, your knowledge of war comes from 40-year-old TV, perhaps it's your persepctive that's out of line with reality.