Tuesday, February 7, 2012

DVD Review: Hell and Back Again -- Released back on January 24th on Cable VOD, Blu-Ray and DVD

“Astonishing! A tour de force that breaks new ground.” The New York Times
In 2009, U.S. Marines launched a major helicopter assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. Within hours of being dropped deep behind enemy lines, 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris’s unit is attacked from all sides.

Embedded in Echo Company during the assault, photojournalist and filmmaker Danfung Dennis captures the frontline action with visceral immediacy. When Sergeant Harris returns home to North Carolina after a life-threatening injury in battle, the film evolves from stunning war reportage to the story of one man’s personal apocalypse. With the love and support of his wife, Ashley, Harris struggles to overcome the difficulties of transitioning back to civilian life. The two realities seamlessly intertwine to communicate both the extraordinary drama of war and, for a generation of soldiers, the no-less-difficult experience of returning home. An unprecedented exploration of the moving image and a film of uncommon intimacy, HELL AND BACK AGAIN comes full circle as it lays bare the true cost of war.
Bonus Features:
Audio Commentary with Director Danfung Dennis and Editor Fiona Otway; Technical Gear Demo: How HELL AND BACK AGAIN was filmed; Willie Nelson’s “Hell and Back: Slide Show"; Deleted Scenes
Ida Awards - Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Filmmaker Award
Nominee - Academy Awards - Best Documentary
Nominee - Gotham Independent Film Awards - Best Documentary
Nominee - Cinema Eye Honors - Outstanding Achievement In Direction
Nominee - Cinema Eye Honors - Best Debut Feature
Nominee - Cinema Eye Honors - Outstanding Achievement In Best Cinematography
Nominee - Cinema Eye Honors - Outstanding Achievement In Production
Winner World Cinema Jury Prize Documentary – Sundance Film Festival 2011
Winner World Cinema Cinematography Award– Sundance Film Festival 2011
Winner – Best Film Of The Documentary Competition — Moscow Int’l Film Festival
Winner Harrell Award For Best Documentary- Camden International Film Festival 2011

My Thoughts:
We ended up watching this movie yesterday, while waiting for the Superbowl to begin.  Even though I had received a screener copy a few weeks ago, I wanted to wait and share this award winning film, which was recently nominated for an Oscar in the documentaries category, with a group of friends, rather than just by myself.  I knew it would stir discussion and become a favorite amongst those who viewed it.  

After watching this movie, everyone in the room could see why it has won so many awards, and garnered so much attention since its release at Sundance in 2011 and then again when it hit store shelves back on January 24th.  Directed by Danfung Dennis, this film, which is based on the real-life events that occurred behind enemy lines in southern Afghanistan, with Sergeant Nathan Harris and his unit, does an amazing job at sharing with the world, what our military experiences when put into combat, and how they have to deal with the consequences of what happens after the battle is over, and they return home.  This film captures and share frontline action in a way that makes the viewer feel the intensity our soldiers feel while in battle, through montages of clips, which jump back and forth across different chronologies, physical geographies, subjectivities and psychological landscapes.  

If you ever wondered what life is really like when soldiers return back home and try to readjust to some sort of normalcy, then this film will paint that picture for you, as you see firsthand from an actual couple, on how they deal.  Overall, this film was brilliantly documented and a truly award winning film, that will continue to gain buzz and awards as the 2012 movie awards season begins.


You can order this movie directly from New Video, on Blu-Ray or DVD.  Click here to order now.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this DVD from New Video in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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