93 minutes| U.S.A.| 2010| Colour| D-Cinema

Take cover! This portrait of U.S. troops under fire in Afghanistan’s dauntingly inhospitable Korangal Valley is arguably the most visceral document of modern warfare we’ve yet seen. As Taliban bullets whizz left, right and centre, it’s a wonder the camera crew didn’t pay for this footage with their lives, though the American losses are certainly significant. Indeed, the title honours the first of the company to die: popular 20-year-old medic Juan Restrepo remains in his comrades’ thoughts as they try to dig in and stay alive before they can begin to win over hearts and minds. Yes, the courage of these ordinary men in terrifying circumstances is affecting indeed, but the filmmakers, war photographer Tim Hetherington and author Sebastian Junger, certainly haven’t delivered a propaganda piece. What comes across most strongly is questioning the folly of a conflict between an all-powerful, heavily-armoured America and a quasi-feudal community whose mountain home might well be on another planet. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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