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"Korengal": Sebastian Junger Cuts Through the Jingoism of Americans at War 

Wednesday, Jun 25 2014
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Sebastian Junger's documentary Korengal is a much-needed counterbalance to Peter Berg's drama Lone Survivor from earlier this year. Korengal is also about a group of male soldiers in a rugged yet verdant area of Afghanistan as part of the questionably-named Operation Enduring Freedom, dealing with the uncertainties of war and the awareness that they could die at any moment. But both the abundant video footage of their day-to-day activities (this is likely as close as most of us will get to being in the middle of a firefight) as well as the focus on the psychology of the soldiers makes the military torture-porn of Lone Survivor seem all the more facile. The soldiers are also interviewed in unsettling closeups against a black background, adding to the sense of claustrophobia and impending doom, but combat is also an adrenalin surge they've grown accustomed to and know they'll miss when they go home. And where Lone Survivor was dedicated to its rah-rah jingoism, the real-life soldiers of Korengal do question why they're in Afghanistan, and are also conscious of the fact that they may never be able to properly assimilate back into civilian life. It's an issue that was relevant 85 years ago in All Quiet on the Western Front, and is no less so today.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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