Dantung Dennis' Hell and Back Again follows Sgt. Nathan Harris as he comes home from Afghanistan after being seriously wounded in combat. Documentaries about this subject matter always make me nervous. I'm always worried about these films having a very opinionated viewpoint towards the subject matter but Danfung Dennis' Hell and Back Again treats its subject with respect, showing an unbiased and in-depth look into both Nathan's life on the war-front and on the home-front after his injury. Embedded with Harris' unit during their assault on the Taliban stronghold, Hell and Back Again gives the viewer an up close and personal look at what's like to be a Marine on the front lines. While this alone is powerful, what makes Hell and Back Again special is its ability to masterfully toggle between the intensity of the battlefield and the lethargy centered around adjusting to civilian life all over again. Using a combination of flashbacks, dynamic editing and sound viscerally, Hell and Back Again conveys Harris' state of mind as he struggles to deal with the present while reflecting on the past. Hell and Back Again certainly has its moments of emotional manipulation but it never does so in a way that manipulates the main portrait of Nathan Harris, a man trained to kill who now can barely walk without the aid of another.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.