Restrepo (film)

Restrepo is a 2010 American documentary film about the Afghanistan war, directed by American journalist Sebastian Junger and British photojournalist Tim Hetherington.

Restrepo poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byTim Hetherington
Sebastian Junger
Produced byTim Hetherington
Sebastian Junger
CinematographyTim Hetherington
Sebastian Junger
Edited byMichael Levine
Distributed byNational Geographic Entertainment
Release date
  • January 21, 2010 (2010-01-21) (Sundance)
  • June 25, 2010[1] (2010[1]-06-25) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,436,391 (worldwide)[3]

The film explores the year that Junger and Hetherington spent in Afghanistan on assignment for Vanity Fair,[4] embedded with the Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army in the Korangal Valley. The 2nd Platoon is depicted defending the outpost (OP) named after a platoon medic who was killed earlier in the campaign, PFC Juan Sebastián Restrepo, a Colombian-born naturalized U.S. citizen.[5] Junger and Hetherington distinguish that this film is not a war advocacy documentary but instead they wanted to, "capture the reality of the soldiers".[6]


The film begins with background that reads: "In May 2007, the men of Second Platoon, Battle Company began a 15-month deployment in the Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. Military."

The film chronicles the lives of the men from their deployment to the time of their return home, and begins with video footage of PFC Restrepo on a train one week prior. The goal of the deployment was to clear the Korengal Valley of insurgency and gain the trust of the local populace. The Korengal flows north to the Pech, which then flows east to the Kunar River valley on the porous border with Pakistan. As an example of the ever-present dangers, the first scenes cover a fire-fight after a military Hummer is disabled on a narrow mountain road by an IED.

The soldiers are ferried in by Chinook and begin their deployment at Combat Outpost (OP) Korengal, or "KOP", and early in the campaign PFC Juan S. Restrepo is killed, as well as another team member, PFC Vimoto. The film portrays negotiations with the local people, construction of an advanced outpost called "OP Restrepo", as well as the challenges and intermittent fire-fights they face.

In the latter part of the film, the dangerous mission Operation Rock Avalanche is shown along with some of its tragic consequences. One event was the loss to Battle Company[7] of Army Sgt. Larry Rougle. It was there, in 2007, when Army Sgt. Rougle, who served two tours in Iraq and three in Afghanistan, was ambushed by a large number of Taliban. It was learned that Rougle, at point, took the brunt of the attack, allowing his soldiers to secure a position and fight. Army Sgt. Larry Rougle, who is a recipient of the Purple Heart, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Restrepo is a film not just about the events of combat, but also about "brotherhood," according to Junger.[8] The film shows the dedication to their duty as a soldier and their commitment to one another as brothers. The film is narrated by several men who fought with PFC Juan S. Restrepo. The men discuss loss such as dead civilians and soldiers, as well as the emotional distress that the soldiers are left with in its aftermath.

The film ends with a coda that reads: "In April 2010, the United States Army withdrew from the Korengal Valley. Nearly 50 American soldiers died fighting there."

Post-film eventsEdit

For his actions during the operation, Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, who is not featured in the film, would later become the first living person to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.[9][10] From the same battalion, Sergeant Kyle J. White would also later receive the Medal of Honor. On 20 April 2011, Tim Hetherington (a director, producer and cinematographer of Restrepo) was killed by shrapnel from either a mortar shell or an RPG fired by Libyan forces whilst covering the 2011 Libyan civil war.


Restrepo received the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.[11] The film received a certified fresh rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 118 reviews, and an average rating of 8.08/10; the consensus states: "Forsaking narrative structure for pure visceral power, Restrepo plunges viewers into the experiences of soldiers on the front lines of the Afghan War."[12] It also has a score of 85 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, indicating "universal acclaim" .[13]

Roger Ebert awarded Restrepo four out of four stars.[14] Additionally, numerous critics and publications included it in their annual top film selections.[15][16][17] It was named as one of the top documentary films of 2010 by the National Board of Review. It was nominated for the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary, losing to Inside Job.[18]


In March 2014, Realscreen magazine revealed that Junger was working on a sequel to Restrepo, titled Korengal.[19] The film was released in theaters in New York on May 30, 2014, with a pay-VOD release following in September 2014. The sequel "departs from the vérité style of the original somewhat, as it features an original score and some archival news footage".[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Restrepo – Theatrical Release". International Documentary Association. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  2. ^ "Restrepo (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 20, 2010. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  3. ^ "Restrepo (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  4. ^ Into the Valley of Death, Sebastian Junger, Vanity Fair, January 2008 article, discusses the strategic value of the Korangal Valley.
  5. ^ An up-close yet impersonal look at war, Wesley Morris, Boston Globe movie review.
  6. ^ "'Restrepo' Directors: Why It's All War ... No Politics Allowed". TheWrap. July 1, 2010. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Rubin, Elizabeth (February 24, 2008). "Afghanistan – Korengal Valley – United States Military – Counterinsurgency". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Junger, Sebastian, Why veterans miss war, retrieved August 26, 2016
  9. ^ "President Obama Presents the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta: "We're All in Your Debt"". Retrieved January 11, 2016 – via National Archives.
  10. ^ Hetherington, Tim (November 11, 2010). "Medal of Honor Winner Salvatore Giunta on Bravery, Brotherhood, and the Korengal". Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 7, 2013.
  11. ^ Addicott, Brooks (January 30, 2010). "2010 Sundance Film Festival Announces Awards". Sundance Institute. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  12. ^ "Restrepo". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Restrepo review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.
  15. ^ David Denby (December 7, 2010). "The Best (and Worst) Films of the Year". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  16. ^ "2010 in review: Betsy Sharkey on film". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ PartB Film Awards 2011 – The Beaver Archived May 25, 2012, at
  18. ^ Record | Columbia News Archived December 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ a b Benzine, Adam (March 31, 2014). "Exclusive: Junger, Goldcrest to self-release 'Restrepo' sequel". Realscreen. Retrieved April 1, 2014.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
We Live in Public
Sundance Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Documentary
Succeeded by
How to Die in Oregon