Can you imagine what soldiers at war go through every day?
They may witness their fellow soldiers lose limbs, or not know what the kid behind them has up his or her sleeve, literally, or wake in the night screaming, or not be able to sleep at all because they’re afraid of never waking up again.
You can’t imagine that? Good.
That’s why so many Americans around this nation have the utmost respect for those men and women that voluntarily risk their lives to protect their country.
Us regular folks that have the luxury of reading the paper in our home country free and safe from war can only get a glimpse of what goes on in those countries while holding a joystick in our hand. And, realistically, that doesn’t do it justice.
You can get a better idea of what life in wartime is really about by watching the film Hell and Back Again, an Oscar-nominated documentary about the members of Echo Company, a group of U.S. Marines fighting in Afghanistan.
The San Francisco Chronicle says that “Hell and Back Again may be the closest most civilians ever get to the reality of the war in Afghanistan.”
Hell and Back Again will be shown for the first time in Alabama at the Pell City Center, on Flag Day, Thursday, June 14, from 6-9 p.m, with some members of Echo Company, including a Pell City native, in attendance.
Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for M.A.P.S. (Military Assistance Personnel).
Hell and Back Again, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize for documentaryat the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, follows a filmmaker, Danfung Dennis, who is embedded into a marine platoon fighting in Afghanistan in 2009.
One of the soldiers that filmmaker Dennis followed closely was Nathan Harris, badly wounded and on his way home. Harris eventually finds himself being taken care of by his wife, Ashley Harris. After months depending on others to care for him, Harris struggles with mood swings, becomes dependent on pain medication, and finds himself wishing he were back in Afghanistan, where he feels he had more power and control regarding his circumstances. Dennis provides a detailed look at the struggles Harris faces on the battlefield in Afghanistan and at home in a small town in North Carolina.
The screening Thursday will be a “full-fledged affair” honoring the lives that have been lost, and continue to be lost, in the war in Afghanistan, according to Kathy McCoy, director of Pell City Center.
“We have one of the young men in Echo Company from Pell City,” McCoy told Weld Local, referring to Sergeant Matthew Bein, a graduate of Pell City High School. “He will be there, so will Nathan Harris… We will also have our Blue Star Banner display honoring our young men in Alabama who have lost their lives in these two wars.”
Bein and Harris, as well as other members of Echo Company portrayed in the film and their families, will be in attendance for a question-and-answer portion of the event.
According to a report at the St. Clair News-Aegis web site, Bein was wounded in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device, or IED.
Bein told the site that he and his fellow Marines has a tough time after leaving the war zone. “We were ready for anything until we came home,” he said.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “This gut-wrenching, tender film is brilliantly edited by Fiona Otway, who interconnects the Afghan front-line battle scenes with the home-front struggles with coherent eloquence.”
NYDailyNews.com says, “Shifting between Harris’s helpless family in North Carolina and his overwhelmed unit in enemy territory, we see firsthand the insidious devastation of combat experience. If these guys have to live it, surely we should try to understand it.”
The Alabama premiere of the film Hell and Back Again will take place at the Pell City Center, on the campus of Pell City High School, 25 Williamson Drive, Pell City, Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m. Prior to the screening, at 6 p.m., there will be a reception honoring the men depicted in the film. Admission is free. For more information, call (205) 338-1974 or go to www.pellcitycenter.com.
Jesse Jones is a Weld Local correspondent. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.