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By Patrick Samuel • March 25th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
National Geographic Entertainment

Original release: June 25th, 2010
Running time: 93 minutes

Directors: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger


However we feel about it, there’s no denying that war is something that affects each and every one of us, regardless of whether or not we choose to acknowledge that fact. It can be in an indirect way, such as the way it affects the laws our governments pass, the price of goods and services we’ve come to depend on and the work we find ourselves doing (or not doing) as the economy changes to reflect the cost of war. Some say it’s war after all that keeps our economies turning. Or it can be in a very direct way.

Restrepo is a 2010 war documentary chronicling the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The film explores the year that British photographer Tim Hetherington (who was killed a year later by mortar shells fired by Libyan forces while covering the 2011 Libyan civil war) and American journalist Sebastian Junger spent in Afghanistan on assignment with the Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (airborne) of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in the Korangal Valley. It’s a remarkable look at the effects of war from the point of view of the soldiers who fight in it.

The journey begins with the men in high spirits as they make their way to Afghanistan, but as they draw nearer to their destination it dawns on them how dangerous their mission is. Their outpost is out in the open where they are constantly being shot at and attacked from all sides. The Korengal Valley, located south of the Pech River in the Pech District of Kunar Province in north-eastern Afghanistan has been nicknamed “Death Valley” by American soldiers over the years. 42 American service men lost their lives fighting there and hundreds have been wounded between 2006 and 2009 fighting there. Many Afghan soldiers also lost their lives in the fighting. We can see why it’s considered the most dangerous posting in the U.S. military.


When a member of the platoon, Juan “Doc” Restrepo, a 20-year-old Army medic from Pembroke Pines, is killed, his death shocks his fellow soldiers and leaves them grief stricken. Rather than abandon their post, they decide to stay and fight for it, securing it and naming it after the fallen soldier. The documentary itself is a tribute to him and when the men talk about him, we start to understand a little bit about what it means to be a soldier; the bonds they form with those fighting next to them is suddenly broken with a violent death that we all know is always a possibility but never prepared for.

There are moments when the tension’s lifted, such as when they turn up the music in their makeshift disco and dance to a remix of Samantha Fox’s 80’s hit Touch Me (I Wanna Feel Your Body), deck their rooms with Christmas lights and play video games to pass the time. You get a sense of the sacrifices men like them make even if you don’t agree with the politics or necessity of war.

Restrepo, along with Mike Scotti’s This Is War are important documents of human conflict. They give a side of the story which is sometimes overlooked because it’s unpleasant, because it might makes us disagree with the need for war, but still, their stories need to be told.

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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