There are not many filmmakers I sit down with who intimidate me, but Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger spent a year embedded with an active combat unit in one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan while I was writing reviews of “Star Trek 5,” so, yes… these guys intimidate me.
The result of their effort is “Restrepo,” a harrowing piece of experiential cinema that puts you in the midst of that combat unit for that full year, experiencing all the boredom, confusion, and terror that the men of that unit felt, if only a small degree of it. It’s an interesting piece of journalism, and it works overtime to maintain an air of being apolitical. Of course, these days, if you try to make something with absolutely no politics involved, especially about a subject as super-charged as this, people will always inject their own politics into it. This is a film that people will inevitably see through whatever prism they choose, and I’m sure you could argue that it supports the war just as easily as you could argue that it undermines it. I walked away from the interview fairly sure where Hetherington and Junger stood on the issue, but to their credit, it was only after our conversation, and not after seeing the film.
I sat down with Hetherington and Junger at the National Geographic offices in Culver City, where we spent a few minutes discussing their film, their process, and their collaboration. This was a one-camera set-up, so you’ll hear me but not see me.
Trust me… you’ll see plenty of my big ol’ moon face later this week as we get into the “Despicable Me” interviews.
For now, my thanks to Hetherington, Junger, and everyone who worked to put us together. Guys like this do a whole different job than I do, and it was great to sit down and pick their brains, even if it was for just a short conversation like this one.
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