Restrepo (2010)

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Released 15-Feb-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Deleted Scenes
Interviews-Cast-Additional Interviews
Featurette-Where are they now?
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 89:32 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:56) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim Hetherington
Sebastian Junger
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during closing credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Between May 2007 and July 2008 author Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and photographer Tim Hetherington lived with and filmed the men of the Second Platoon, Battle Company, 503 Infantry Regiment, 173 Airborne on deployment in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, eastern Afghanistan. The result is Restrepo, a sometimes harrowing, sometimes beautiful, always candid documentary, a fly on the wall look at soldiers on duty in the place christened the “Valley of Death”. Two months into their deployment, the platoon established OP (outpost) Restrepo on a hilltop 700 metres away from their base on the valley floor. The OP was named after Private Restrepo, the medic who had been killed earlier in their deployment; the intention was to draw the Taliban to them and in this they succeeded. This film, created from the footage shot by Junger and Hetherington, is not about the right or wrong of the war, government policy, strategy or generals, it is about soldiers doing what they have been ordered to do; facing death from the Taliban fighters on a daily basis, patrolling, meeting with Afghan elders in the weekly shura, relaxing.

     Restrepo was nominated for best documentary in the 2011 Oscars but lost out to Inside Job. It is a compelling documentary about soldiers’ day to day existence on the front line (if “front line” is the right term in a conflict such as Afghanistan). There is no voiceover narration to explain the bigger picture or the strategy; instead, the film is held together by occasional location captions as well as interviews conducted with surviving members of the platoon in Italy after their tour in Afghanistan. However, the film is mainly raw, almost structureless, immediate footage filmed with hand held cameras by Junger and Hetherington as the bullets fly. This is intense documentary footage from the midst of the action as well as honest footage of soldiers relaxing. In the interviews we find out about the soldiers’ fear and exhilaration, the terror of Operation Rock Avalanche, their sorrow as friends are killed, the story of the soldier who was not allowed to play with toy guns as a child, the frustration of Captain Dan Kearney at the suspicion of the valley elders, his sadness at the civilian deaths that also just happened to make his job that much harder. Misunderstandings also occur that are almost comic, such as the death of a cow that become tangled in the OP Restrepo defensive wire. In contrast, there are scenes of soldiers horsing around as well as almost idyllic pictures of the Afghan mountains in all seasons that are breathtaking in their beauty.

     Restrepo is a sometimes harrowing, sometimes beautiful, always candid documentary, a fly on the wall look at soldiers on deployment in a dangerous environment. If you really do want to understand what the coalition troops in Afghanistan, including our own Australian soldiers in Tarin Kowt, face every day, you should see Restrepo. It may not change your view about the war, but it will help you understand.

     The real sadness is that the sweat and sacrifice of these men, and others like them, was a waste, as after 5 years of conflict in the valley which resulted in almost 50 US dead, all US forces withdrew in April 2010 from the Korengal Valley for good, leaving the Afghans to themselves. The number of Afghan deaths, innocent civilians and fighters, was not recorded.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Restrepo is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 which I believe is the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. The post deployment interviews are sharp and detailed but, as expected, the footage from the Korengal Valley varies. Contrast is variable, blacks and shadow detail doggy, there is motion blur but colours are good and natural. Heavy grain is evident in many shots but other than one instance of aliasing on a T-shirt there were no issues. In truth, the print looks very good and enhances the viewing experience of being there with the soldiers.

     There are no subtitles although burnt in white subtitles translate some of the dialogue with the Afghans.

     The layer change at 78:56 was almost unnoticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps. Again, the interview segments were clean but the Afghan location audio is mixed, as some of the dialogue, especially radio dialogue, is indistinct. One should not expect pristine audio in the middle of a fire-fight with the Taliban! This is also a centre oriented track with only occasional effects in the surrounds. The sub woofer was mostly silent but did support music and the occasional explosion.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

     There is no original score, only a traditional Afghan song plus some rock songs. This absence of music adds to the feeling of being on the ground with the soldiers in a real environment.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Deleted Scenes

     Sixteen deleted scenes of varying length from 0:32 to 3:03, totalling 20:25. Same quality as scenes in the film, some are very interesting.

Additional Interviews

     Sections of interviews taped with the soldiers in Italy that were not used in the film. Nine sections, ranging between 8:24 and 0:47, totalling 27:14.

Where Are They Now?

     One or two silent text pages, some with pictures, for 18 Second Platoon soldiers.

Restrepo Trailer (2:08)

Madman Propaganda

     Trailers for other films from Madman: Redacted (1:39), The Messenger (2:18), National Geographic: Inside Talibanistan (2:28) and Waltz with Bashir (1:56).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 NTSC US edition has the same specifications and almost the same extras as the Region 4 PAL. A draw.

Summary

     Restrepo is a sometimes harrowing, sometimes beautiful, always candid documentary. Audio and video are very good considering the filming took place in a war zone. Extras are limited to deleted scenes and extra interviews with the soldiers; something about the experiences of Junger and Hetherington while filming would have been very interesting indeed. If you really do want to understand what the coalition troops in Afghanistan face every day, you should see Restrepo.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
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