Junger and Hetherington are the film makers of Rastrepo, a documentary filmed in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, also known as the deadliest piece of terrain for the U.S. soldiers. In order to capture the film, take photographs, and all together tell their story, Junger and Hetherington had to literally be shoulder to shoulder with soldiers, hiding, knowing the Taliban are watching them.
The Korengal is imperative because it originally was a smuggling route that was used to bring in men and weapons from Pakistan during the 1980s. From the Korengal, the mujahideen were able to push west along the high ridges of the Hindu Kush to attack Soviet positions. American military planners feared that Al-Qaeda was trying to revive it. Americans wanted simply seal off the valley and go around, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters hiding near the Pakistani towns and could use the Korengal as a base of operations to strike deep into eastern Afghanistan, where Bin Laden was thought to be hiding.
Junger and Hetherington, as much and maybe even more so than the trained soldiers, lives are on the line. This is about as risky as anyone can be with their life. So why did they do this? If they did not take the necessary risks required to capture the film, the story of Rastrepo would have never been told, or it would have been told with very little lasting capacity. The civilians and people of the home front obviously know the war is happening and that U.S soldiers are getting injured and dying, but you cannot know the horror and understand what the go through unless you are out fighting along with them. Junger and Hetherington got viewers as close to that feeling as they possibly could.
It is the most authentic connection people can have to the war front and what it is like to defend your country against an enemy you do not necessarily understand.
“I’m carrying a video camera and running it continually so I won’t have to think about turning it on when the shooting starts. It captures everything my memory doesn’t.”
Junger and Hetherington clearly thought that if it is worth the risk for our troops to fight to keep our country safe, then it is worth risking their lives to capture every aspect of the experience that they possible could to be able to tell viewers honestly and accurately what happened in the Valley of Death.