Hell and Back Again

2011

Action / Documentary / History / War

Hell and Back Again (2011) download yts

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1.07 GB
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23.976 fps
1hr 28 min
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1.69 GB
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23.976 fps
1hr 28 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dalefried 10 / 10

Letting the Images Speak for Themselves

Sometimes the power in the imagery of a film alone tells an ambiguous tale that can be taken in many directions by a viewer. With the plethora of documentaries on the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures pushing you this way or that, it was incredibly refreshing to see one that had its intentions somewhere else. Just present the war and its impacts and let the chips fall where they may.

People made a big deal last year about Restrepo showing the intensity of moments in combat. That film, while great, doesn't even touch what young Danfung Dennis achieves here. The up close intimacy of the war moments took the most brazen courage to compile, but the shots are so beautifully constructed you truly can touch the daring and fear of those moments. I have only felt this before in narrative films like The Hurt Locker.

But the footage of the struggle this troubled soldier endures in his recovery from crippling injuries is equally compelling, frightening and heartbreaking. The sewing together of the two worlds presented has a power all its own.

I really believe this amazing young filmmaker, who really gives his all to the art in this film, deserves recognition. It won the documentary jury prize at Sundance. It now has been shortlisted by the Oscars for nomination consideration. These are so deserved.

Reviewed by pierceagnew 10 / 10

A Whole New View

I started off watching this documentary honestly because I was bored one night and wanted to watch a documentary. Being fluent in Oscar news, I decided I would be cultured and try to watch one of the documentaries that was nominated. After some searching around I had success in finding Hell and Back Again on Instant Watch. I was a little skeptic at first, because I am not big on the whole Afghan War documentaries. I hate how directors try to shove their ideas down my throat about the war, but I found Hell and Back Again much different.

I was entranced by how many ways the movie was pulling the opinion of the war. It first shows an injured Marine named Nathan who is crippled because of the war. Yet, the moment I began think it was an anti-war movie, Nathan is talking about how he wants to get back onto the front lines! I had to pause the movie and try to wrap my head around this and decide whether this was pro or anti-war. Then it hit me like a sack of bricks, this movie is not pro or anti, it's an actual documentary. It's what a documentary is meant to be, a picture of real life and a gap for the viewer to decide what is right or wrong. I un-paused the movie and continued to watch.

The rest of movie was as gripping and emotion provoking as the first fifteen minutes. The director managed to flip between the footage of the war and the home life of Nathan. You could see Nathan back home still recovering physically from the war while at the same time the 'flashback' clips of the war lets the audience remember that there is more going on than we can see. As an audience you are spell bound. You see Nathan playing Modern Warfare 3 and you wonder what is going on in his head. You see Nathan playing with a gun and you move to the edge of your seats and begin to think that something very real could happen right here. The sheer tension created in this documentary is massive and is not lost on audiences.

One of my favorite scenes in this movie is when Nathan and his wife are looking at a new house and Nathan opens a door. At that moment the movie flicks over to clips from Nathan overseas as he and his fellow soldiers are kicking down doors and then the movie flicks back to Nathan back at the new house where he is looking like he is about to throw up. The raw emotion in that scene really got me going. Overall I was pleasantly surprised at this movie. As a documentary it filled the requirements of not only being entertaining and thought provoking, but also being available to the public. The story was interesting and the people in the story were very real to me. I am giving this movie a 10 out of 10 rating and highly recommend that if you can spare 80 minutes of your life for this movie, then watch it.

Reviewed by akeason1 9 / 10

A great documentary that will bring out different things from different people

Many documentaries have some sort of bias, whether it be "pro" or "anti" something or other. "To Hell and Back Again" is different in that it will probably expose one's opinions without really having one itself. The documentary follows the life of Sgt Nathan Harris and his wife Ashley who live in a small town in North Carolina. Nathan is a marine who, on his third tour of duty, is wounded in his leg and has to go through extensive and painful therapy. Danfung Dennis cuts between these images and those he took earlier of Nathan leading his platoon in an intense tour in Afghanistan. The contrasts are incredible and help emphasize everything that a marine goes through both abroad and at home. Some images are severe, such as the deaths of an American LCP and an Afghan soldier (both die off screen but you do see their bodies moments after)

The footage of Nathan at home, however, is what may bring out very different responses. He is obviously in extreme pain and has a harder life, yet is still very gung-ho and dreams of a full recovery and return to the front line (which got a gasp of disbelief by some in my theater). He also is very interested in firearms, and there are several shots of him and his pistols which he keeps near his bed and which he trains his wife how to use. She, meanwhile, must deal with the stress of caring for an injured husband while still performing her daily routine. Together, they see people in their community (who are quite positive), the marine doctors (who are hopeful for his recovery), and attend a very sad memorial for recently KIA soldiers at the base.

To anyone who is staunchly pro-military, the footage should be quite uplifting. Nathan is determined to recover (and he does noticeably improve though as of April 2011 is not fully healed) and the support of his community and especially his wife is heartwarming. Those who are not so gung-ho will probably be shocked by the footage. In the Q&A with the director and Ashley after the screening, one woman asked Ashley if she was scared for her life at all (a reference to Nathan's constant gun wielding, which she wasn't). Regardless of your leanings though this is an excellent documentary and should not be missed.

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