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.
The story follows the U.S. Marines Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, as they launch a major assault on a Taliban stronghold in Southern Afghanistan. Within hours of being dropped deep behind enemy lines, Sergeant Nathan Harris's unit is attacked from all sides. Cut off and surrounded, the Marines fight a ghostlike enemy and experience immense hostility from displaced villagers. Frustration grows on both sides, as any common ground, or success, seems elusive.
The parallel story begins with Sergeant Harris's return home to his wife in the U.S., after he is severely injured. He's in terrible physical pain, and becomes addicted to his pain medication. But his psychological pain may be worse, as he attempts to reconcile the immense gulf between his experiences at war, and the terrifying normalcy of life at home. These two stories intertwine to communicate both the extraordinary drama of war and the no less shocking experience of returning home, as a whole generation of Marines struggles to find an identity in a country that prefers to be indifferent.
- Danfung DennisDirector/Producer
- Mike LernerProducer
- Martin HerringProducer
Roast Beef Productions is the award-winning film production company responsible for Havana Marking's Afghan Star, which won World Cinema Documentary Best Director and Audience Award at Sundance 2009. They have been making international documentary films for over 20 years for BBC, Channel 4, HBO, and Discovery.