One of the things that really struck me as I watched Restrepo was how much ambiguity and chaos there was in the whole situation. Nowadays people seem to expect order and control even in war. The phrase “War has become routine” could only occur in a world where people expect things to follow very orderly patterns. Restrepo seems to challenge this concept and implies that war is still mostly chaotic and uncontrollable. Even if war is routine in concept its execution is still a difficult road to walk. Even just negotiations appear very nerve wracking and uncertain as the movie shows the captain trying to bridge cultural differences and years of mistrust in his talks with village elders. I think the uncertainty is best seen whenever the men talk about accidents. The accidents seem so frequent and vary greatly in their effects on the men. In particular when the captain describes how his orders “killed five men who didn’t pull the trigger [attack them] but were in some way connected to [the Taliban]” (Restrepo) you truly see how ambiguous the missions, enemies, and consequences really are.
For me the most memorable scene is when one of the soldiers begins crying upon seeing his friend killed during the fire fight. It seems easy to think that soldiers are desensitized to death but this seems to be only partially true in my opinion. It is more soldiers are desensitized to murder, not death. Everyone is still affected when they lose someone they care about, the only reason soldiers appear desensitized is because they can’t stop fighting every time they lose someone. If they did then they would lose everything that person had died for. Seeing one of the soldiers break down and begin crying helped me remember that every single death still mattered to these people, regardless of if they saw death a lot or not.
Restrepo is an exceptionally good movie for explaining what it felt like to be the soldiers stationed in one of the most unpleasant war zones in the world. I would easily recommend seeing the movie to learn more about the war and the people in it, especially since it tastefully avoids large amounts of blood. It isn’t the most refined movie, if refinement is all you’re looking for you’d probably want to go with Hotel Rwanda over Restrepo in terms of war movies and Kandahar probably shows the lives of the Middle Eastern people more accurately. Looking solely from the perspective of soldiers, Restrepo is one of the best choices and I would recommend it to people so long as they are interested in the war already. If one isn’t interested in the war to begin with then Restrepo won’t change his or her mind anytime soon.