The best war documentaries about Iraq/Afghanistan
I can't and hopefully never will be able to know what's it's like to be in a war. To be in actual combat, and have your life on the line every second of the day.
But as you all may know. There are a few reality documentaries that give you an idea of what it's like. I decided to make a top 5 of what I think are the best documentaries.
I chose the reality documentaries. The ones that are made by the soldiers themselves or followed up close with freedom of speech. I think these documentaries give you the best idea of what the men of the military are going trough. Some of them contain a lot of violence but for me, conversations such as ''how will you ever get back into society after this? shit, I have no idea.'' Make the biggest impression.
No matter what your political ideas are. Wether your in favor of the war or not. After you watch these documentaries all you can do is support the guys who are out there following orders.
Many Americans drive around with "Support Our Troops" stickers affixed to their vehicles, and if Occupation: Dreamland is any indication, the men and women who are serving their country in Iraq could certainly use it. Filmed in early 2004, director-editor Ian Olds' documentary (for which he was given full access by the U.S. authorities) follows a group of soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division stationed in al-Falluja (also known as Falloujah), Iraq's "city of mosques," where their mission is to maintain the peace and root out insurgents, but their goal is simply to survive their tours of duty and go home. Many of these young men, a lot of them poor and under-educated, joined the military because they lacked viable career or life alternatives; once stationed in Iraq, they clearly wonder why they are there ("What exactly are we protecting?" asks one. "I don't know"). Their daily lives, at least as depicted rather matter-of-factly by Olds, seem to consist of stretches of drudgery punctuated by occasional outbursts of gunfire and dangerous activity, along with meetings in which officers try to persuade them to re-enlist once their contracts expire. Although there are snipers and bombers around, we don't witness any casualties (filming was completed before the Marines laid bloody siege to al-Falluja in April of that same year). Instead, what we see is an uneasy co-existence between locals who don't want them there ("America can go to the moon and make nuclear rockets," says one Iraqi, "but it can't make the people") and soldiers who are duty-bound to fulfill their missions and understand why they are mistrusted, but have little sympathy for those they are supposed to help ("I hate these people," mutters one). They may call their base of operations "Dreamland" (it's actually an abandoned Ba'athist retreat), but for most of these guys, "nightmare" might be more appropriate.
This film takes place in Afghanistan, Korengal valley. It was at the time the most dangerous place on earth. A hand full of soldiers go out in the middle of the night to a strategical point on top of a hill in the Korengal valley. Where they dig thereselfs in and basically get shot at 24/7. The outpost is called Restrepo after a medic who was killed in action. It's an emotional film that tells the story of the soldiers posted there but leaves any and all interpretations to the viewer. It's one small, but very dangerous, piece of the war and needs no additional plot, or subplots, other than the daily life in the field.
It's nearly inconceivable to me, fifteen months in such a place. A place few Americans could find on a map, and far fewer could explain the importance of. It's a must-see movie regardless of your politics.
The only non American film in my top five. This documentary is made by the Danish. They were posted in the south of Afghanistan in a provence named Helmand. Their mission takes 6 months. This is a documentary which for me contains the most disturbing scene of all these films. There is a point where the Danish soldiers are being shot by taliban troops from a ditch. They end up trowing a grenade in the ditch and shooting the taliban warriors that are still breathing after the explosion. In the documentary you will see the aftermath of this. When one of the soldiers who killed them will play with the bodies and make jokes about them as he takes their weapons. Back at camp the guys celebrate and get treated like they are hero's. This event becomes a big debate in Denmark. The intensity of the documentary is amazing. The camera crew is among the Danish soldiers and gets shot at just like them. You can hear the anxiety in the breathing of the crew.
4.The war tapes
Reduced from some 800 hours of raw footage to one compelling, 96-minute film, The War Tapes, while not the first documentary about U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq (cf. 2006's Off to War, which covers similar ground), is unusual in so far as it was shot entirely by men on active duty in Iraq--specifically three National Guardsmen (or "citizen soldiers," as they call themselves) from New Hampshire who served in that benighted country in 2004. The three are by no means alike. Spc. Mike Moriarty is a patriot who, much to the dismay of his family, re-enlisted after 9/11 and frankly hopes to be "someone's hero." Sgt. Steve Pink is motor-mouthed wiseacre who grows increasingly cynical as his tour plays out. Sgt. Zack Bazzi, a Lebanese-American who speaks fluent Arabic, reads The Nation and doesn't much care for George W. Bush, but is nonetheless ready to fight. Yet despite their differences, their experiences are similarly grim. After some training at home, we see them arrive in the Mideast, where the first words they hear are, "Welcome to Iraq. Only one year to go," followed shortly by a mortar explosion near Camp Anaconda, their base. Thereafter, we see them in a variety of settings: in Baghdad and Fallujah, on the road (their duties include escorting truck convoys), fighting insurgents (several of the battle scenes are very intense and fairly graphic), in the camp cafeteria (where one of them excoriates Halliburton, who seems to have a hand in every aspect of the war effort, for charging the government $28 for a single styrofoam plate), in their quarters (their idea of recreation is staging a death match between a scorpion and a spider), and so on; we also visit their families back in New Hampshire. What emerges from all of this is a striking portrait of bitterness, resignation, and outright hostility, especially towards Iraqis on both sides. Moriarty perhaps sums it up most succinctly when they return to the States: "I'm so glad I went. I hated it with a god-awful passion, and I will not go back... I've done my part... It's someone else's turn." Nearly two hours of bonus material includes extended outtakes and extra footage, follow-up interviews with the three soldiers, and more.
Gunner Palace may well prove to be the emblematic film of the Iraq war, offering a yet-to-be rivaled level of intimacy with the inner lives of those who hate war more than anyone-the soldiers who have to fight it. A war documentary seemingly without an agenda, at least in political terms, it appears to neither support left-wing nor right-wing interpretations of the Iraq war (or perhaps it supports both). Director Michael Tucker provides a ground-level view of the conflict by closely following members of the 2/3 Field Artillery. He lived with these soldiers, documented their daily lives in a bombed-out former pleasure palace once belonging to Uday Hussein, accompanied them on raids, and recorded their brutally honest observations on film. We learn that mortar attacks typically fail to rattle the troops, but that paper bags or packages in the streets that may contain Improvised Explosive Devices evoke gut-churning anxiety. We see Iraqi civilians whose homes are raided, cowering with fear as these members of the occupation search for contraband weapons. We meet soldiers who express profound doubts about the morality of their mission, soldiers who earnestly hope they’re helping the people of Iraq, soldiers who roll on the ground with laughter at the ineffective armor they've been provided for their Humvees. Most of these men (and occasionally women) hail from small towns and vacillate between exaltation for the adventure they're experiencing on the world stage and deep confusion and disillusionment at how it's proceeding. At one point in the documentary, Tucker returns to his home in the states; some footage of him making breakfast in his kitchen is shocking when one considers that only twelve hours previous he was in a war zone. Gunner Palace recapitulates this dissonant sensation by virtue of its candor and proximity to the conflict. In the 1970s the major broadcast media brought Vietnam into our living rooms via the nightly news. Gunner Palace, practically by itself, provides the same service today.