Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2007. The Documentary Group. Screenplay by Colby Buzzell, Edward Parker Gyokeres, Sangjoon Han, Ed Hrivnak, Jack Lewis, John McCary, Denis Prior, Michael Strobl, Brian Turner. Cinematography by Jason Ellson. Produced by Richard Robbins. Music by Ben Decter. Production Design by Regina O’Brien. Costume Design by Jeannine West. Film Editing by Gillian McCarthy. Academy Awards 2007.
The power of literature to deal with the devastation of war is directly applied to those who experience battle in this incredibly powerful documentary. Soldiers emerging from the Iraq War are given the opportunity to express what they have seen and witnessed thanks to workshops and training by writing professors. Narrated by various notable celebrities (including Beau Bridges, Robert Duvall, Aaron Eckhart and Justin Kirk), we hear a number of these stories read aloud while footage plays on the screen, book-ended a number of times by short and not in any way superfluous talking head interviews with military personnel. What’s important here is that history is not being told by the highest-ranking members of the army but by those on the ground level, which makes the stories that much more devastating to experience. One particular story, “Taking Chance” by Michael Strobl, eventually became an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning television movie of the same name with Kevin Bacon.