Hell and Back Again
What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home — injured physically and psychologically — and build a life anew? In Hell and Back Again, two overlapping narratives are intercut — the life of a Marine at war on the front and the life of the same Marine in recovery at home — creating both a dreamlike quality and a strikingly realistic depiction of how Marines experience this war.
In 2009, U.S. Marines launch a major helicopter assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. Within hours of being dropped deep behind enemy lines, 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris’s unit (U.S. Marines Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment) is attacked from all sides. Cut off and surrounded, the Marines fight a ghostlike enemy and experience immense hostility from displaced villagers caught in the middle.
When Sergeant Harris returns home to North Carolina after a life-threatening injury in battle, the film evolves from a war exposé to the story of one man’s personal apocalypse. With the love and support of his wife, Ashley, Harris struggles to overcome the difficulties of transitioning back to civilian life.
Watch Independent Lens: Hell and Back Again Thursday, May 28 at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS
Half startlingly raw war documentary and half intimate portrait of a man in physical and spiritual agony, Hell and Back Again has been nominated for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.