Day by Day



23 February 2009

Through a glass darkly...

There are few films which accurately portray the terror, boredom and camaraderie of armed conflict.  Many movies, even the documentaries, provide a significant slant or bias on their presentation.  We have seen a plethora of movies about soldiers in the last few years, certainly since the start of armed conflict in Afghanistan.  HBO's documentary, Generation Kill, has been lauded and lambasted.  I have not seen this presentation.  I truly enjoyed Gunner Palace, a well made film with little editorializing. 
 
The experience of combat (to which I have only remote experience) is a truly individual experience.  The behavior in combat of a nation's armed forces is reflective upon the nation's values and the upbringing of their citizenry.  There is widespread agreement, even among strong anti-war / military groups, that the behavior of the United States military has continued to set new standards for behavior, adherence to rules of conflict and protection of innocent citizenry. 
 
It is with this in mind that I share the attached information about an upcoming documentary.  At no time in our history have we been able to review the recent past with such clarity.  Thousands of hours of recorded video, audio and millions of pages of documents exist chronicling our actions in the current conflicts.  It is our responsibility as engaged citizens to examine this record, objectively, to determine the successes and opportunities for our military forces and by extension our foreign policy. 


From: info106@info.govdelivery.com [mailto:info106@info.govdelivery.com] On Behalf Of American Forces Press Service
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2009 12:52 PM
Subject: Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families

Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families
Mon, 23 Feb 2009 11:47:00 -0600

American Forces Press Service


Documentary Depicts Commitment, Sacrifice of Soldiers, Families

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2009 - On location in the Middle of Nowhere, Iraq, filmmaker Jake Rademacher focuses his lens on a unit of young reconnaissance troops with whom he's embedded.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
David Scantling, chief executive officer of private equity firm Scantling Technology Ventures; Producer Norman S. Powell; Army Capt. Isaac Rademacher, actor Gary Sinese and filmmaker Jake Rademacher pose for photos after an advance screening of "Brothers at War," a film that documents Jake Rademacher's experience in Iraq as he sought to understand what motivates his two military brothers. The sneak preview took place Feb. 20, 2009, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The film releases at theaters across the country March 13. DoD photo by John J. Kruzel

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
For five days they wait in the desert near Syria, watching idly for smugglers bringing weapons, cash or foreign fighters across the border. Conversation is the only thing that colors the monotony of the blank horizon.

One soldier says he joined the ranks to make his father proud. Another is confident his duty will benefit posterity. And a crew-cut junior enlisted troop says through a wad of chewing tobacco he's not sure why wears the uniform.

"If you find out, let me know," he tells Rademacher.

At the heart of Rademacher's documentary "Brothers at War" are the kind of open-ended questions many civilians have about what U.S. servicemembers do and why. Using his own family as a microcosm, Rademacher paints an intimate portrait that seeks to understand the commitment and sacrifice attendant to military service.

The Rademacher clan represents a compelling cross-section, with two of Jake's brothers, Isaac and Joe, serving as active-duty soldiers.

The film follows Jake to Iraq, where he shadows Isaac, a captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, on his second deployment in Mosul. Jakes also walks a mile in the shoes of Joe -- a 23-year-old staff sergeant sniper and Army Ranger also in the 82nd Airborne -- when he joins snipers at "hide sites" in the Sunni Triangle.

The culmination of Rademacher's multiple journeys to Iraq amounted to 35 interviews, 25 missions and 400 hours of tape, which he distilled into a feature-length film. Brothers at War releases nationally on March 13.

"I wanted to dive right into the front lines," Rademacher said at the National Press Club here last week after an advance screening of the film. "And I learned about my brothers through their brothers in arms."

On the home front, the documentary illustrates the effects that repeated deployments have on spouses and children. But the film is far from a social commentary, and there is a distinct absence of a political or moral agenda.

After the Feb. 20 screening, Isaac revealed that Jake's motivation for making the film was two-fold. He wanted to document Isaac's life as a memento for his young daughter, Hunter, in case Isaac didn't return from duty.

Jake also wanted to open the eyes of the American public to the reality of the front lines, Isaac said.

"I've never seen anything that shows so much truth and then steps away," he added.

Gary Sinese, one of the film's executive producers, attended the screening along with a group of soldiers recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here. Sinese was eager to sign onto the project after it was screened for him last year, he said.

"Brothers at War presents such a positive depiction of military families," he said. "It's a great American documentary that speaks my language."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Pineiro, a liaison for wounded troops recovering at Walter Reed, said he could see the emotion worn on the faces of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers with him at the screening.

"Rademacher did an excellent job representing what the soldiers go through while stationed in Iraq," Pineiro said. "And you could see it on the faces of the soldiers over here.

"Some of them you could see some emotion, some of them were reliving what they went through over there," he said. "It was pretty emotional."

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2 comments:

sonicfrog said...

WOW. No one's given you any comment love lately. :-(

I have a hearing test posted on my blog.

LTC John said...

Frog,

As the old song says "don't get around much anymore..."

This looks like a good movie - but I do find myself steering away from such things. Don't want to relive it, maybe? But perhaps I'll give it a try.