Thursday, December 23, 2010


This will probably be my last post before 2011, so let me wish you a happy Yule while I can.

I haven't seen much about the film Restrepo, but I highly recommend it. There's a good review here. Basically, a film crew goes to Afghanistan with some US soldiers and records what happens, along with some interviews done, presumably, in a studio somewhere else about the soldiers' feelings.

I don't think there is any kind of voice-over or editorial comment, so it's tempting to say that the film just shows things as they are (although they seem to deliberately avoid showing any active enemy combatants or dead bodies). Certainly all the identification is with the Americans, but that would probably have been the case anyway, whatever the film-makers' intent, for American viewers. One comment I think I saw (can't find it now) complained that the film romanticizes the war, but I don't think it particularly does. War is romantic. Not in the sense that it's a good thing, but because you have so much danger. Death is not exciting, but the threat or danger of death is the stuff of adventure stories. J. Glenn Gray is very good on the appeal (as well as the horror) of war, and I think Restrepo supports a lot of what he says about camaraderie, etc.

It's hard to watch people you identify with being shot at without feeling at some level that you ought to be there with them, helping in some way or other. So I think the film would be an effective recruiting tool. But it wasn't enough to make me sign up. And what I came away thinking was that the danger these men are exposed to is completely pointless.


  1. What's the line of Lee's, at Gettysburgh? "It's good that war is so terrible, else we should become too fond of it." (Something like that.) I agree: War is romantic. That isn't all it is, of course; but it is that.

  2. I ought to know exactly what Lee said, since I pass his tomb almost every day. But I don't. That's a good line.