Walking wounded for Restrepo
"We were never detached. It's not possible to be objective during war. You can't be when someone's trying to kill you."
Sebastian Junger, co-director of the doc Restrepo, remembered his time embedded with the 173rd Battle Company in one of the most violent areas of Afganistan. Junger and co-director Tim Hetherington took 10 trips to the outpost, named Restrepo for a fallen soldier, and became very close to the men they were covering. They also shared the same level of danger during many firefights.
"One day they said 'do you want a grenade, because this isn't going to be a very good day," said Junger, who constantly worried about getting in the company's way. During one excursion, Hetherton broke his leg. Rather than compromise the position, he gritted his teeth and walked four hours downhill.
"Our biggest concern was slowing the group down, getting them killed," said Junger, who tore his Achilles tendon during the shoot. "We made sure they never had to take care of us."
Junger said everything about the doc is about the soldiers. Politics never came up because the men never talked about it. Junger is proud of how the doc became somewhat therapeutic after the soldiers' tour. The interviews were shot in Italy and served as a way for the soldiers to talk through their experiences. Later, the filmmakers flew in the soldiers to view a rough cut in New York, encouraging them to bring their spouses. "Seeing the footage of what happened to these men, the wives finally understood on a deeper level what they were going through," said Junger.