War is hell.
And then there's the aftermath, Korengal (Virgil Films), the riveting sequel Restrepo.
Sebastian Junger's Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary Restrepo dropped viewers into the thick of battle in the War in Afghanistan. Now, with his equally visceral followup, Korengal, Junger focuses on the state of mind of U.S. soldiers after they've left the war. It comes to Blu-ray and DVD from Virgil Films on September 9.
Named for the Afghan valley where Restrepo took place, Korengal picks up where the earlier film left off. . . the same men, the same place, the same commanders, but a very different look at the experience of war. The film, directed by Junger explains how war works, what it feels like and what it does to the young men who fight it.
As one soldier cheers when an enemy fighter is killed, another looks into the camera and asks if God will ever forgive him and his comrades for all of the killing. As one grieves the loss of his friend in combat, another explains why he missed the war after his deployment ended and he would go back in a heartbeat if he could. Every bit as intense and affecting as Restrepo, Korengal goes a step further in bringing the war into living rooms back home.
Junger steers clear of politics to simply present the troops' conflicted souls. One soldier explains how he was so afraid during his time in Korengal that he pretended the surrounding mountains were the mountains near his Oregon home. Stunningly, when interviewed after leaving the war, he blankly says he'd rather be back in Afghanistan than at home. Junger's remarkable film is full of such seeming contradictions, making it gripping viewing from start to finish.
War is hell.