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Hell And Back Again Review

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Embedded with the men of the US Marine's Echo Company in Helmand Province, photojournalist-turned-filmmaker Danfung Dennis is on hand to record the bitter aftermath of a Taliban attack.

★★★★

Cannily cross-cutting between the tour of duty that led to Marine sergeant Nathan Harris being wounded and his agonising rehabilitation, this is a judicious insight into the sacrifices and suffering involved in ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban. Embedded photojournalist Danfung Dennis’ combat footage is as remarkable as anything in Restrepo or Armadillo, with his focus on the fear of the locals caught up in the combat being particularly sharp. His chillingly ironic juxtaposition of scenes of domesticity in Helmand and North Carolina is equally acute. But it’s the struggle endured by Harris and wife Ashley to return to a semblance of normality that proves most revealing, as strangers and comrades alike commend the 25-year-old for his courage without fully appreciating the consequent physical and psychological traumas. Authentic, harrowing, momentous.

A tough but deeply rewarding watch. Search it out.