Operation Homecoming - Writing the
War is such an important
and divisive subject in modern life that it seems like it would be
impossible to make a film on the subject without paying some sort of lip
service to political or societal concerns.
has no such agenda. Though it is undoubtedly showing the horror and
sheer devastation of war, it is doing so in the words of the soldiers who
have and are living it. Much of it is horrifying, much of it is
dehumanizing, however you get a more immediate sense of life during wartime
through their words. Also, the futility of the actions are
supplemented by the pride of the men and women involved. Some have
lost their belief in the mission, others still hold on to duty and friends.
The movie is based on the
fact that the National Endowment of the Arts sent teachers and writers to
the Middle East to do workshops teaching the soldiers how to get their
thoughts and beliefs and experiences on paper. Documentarian Richard
E. Robbins spoke with some of these writers as well as other past war
journalists. Even more touching is when he has actors recite the works
of these soldiers while their stories are illustrated in different manners.
Most of the writing is
notable for its conversational tone -- it seems like you are sitting with
these men and hearing their stories as they relive them. This common
language shows the horror in battle and tries to bring some beauty to the
darkness. It is almost all extremely moving, no matter what you feel
This documentary was filmed
for PBS but due to its powerful message and good word of mouth it has
received limited theatrical runs.
I think the power of
this stunning documentary is best summed up in the words of one of the
soldiers who has lost his innocence about life and war. "I was
terrified that I wasn't going to get a chance to see anything interesting,"
he says with a haunted look on his face. "Which was just the dumbest
thing to think, because I had a lot to learn about the word interesting."
PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: March 30, 2007.