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Hell and Back Again [Blu-ray]

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Product Description

2012 Academy Award® Nominee, Best Documentary Feature. Winner, 2011 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Prize.

In 2009, U.S. Marines launched a major helicopter assault on a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan. Within hours of being dropped deep behind enemy lines, 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris s unit is attacked from all sides.

Embedded in Echo Company during the assault, photojournalist and filmmaker Danfung Dennis captures the frontline action with visceral immediacy. When Sergeant Harris returns home to North Carolina after a life-threatening injury in battle, the film evolves from stunning war reportage to the story of one man s personal apocalypse. With the love and support of his wife, Ashley, Harris struggles to overcome the difficulties of transitioning back to civilian life. The two realities seamlessly intertwine to communicate both the extraordinary drama of war and, for a generation of soldiers, the no-less-difficult experience of returning home. An unprecedented exploration of the moving image and a film of uncommon intimacy, HELL AND BACK AGAIN comes full circle as it lays bare the true cost of war.

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Director Danfung Dennis and Editor Fiona Otway
  • Technical Gear Demo: How HELL AND BACK AGAIN was filmed
  • Willie Nelson s Hell and Back: Slide Show
  • Deleted Scenes


Astonishing! A tour de force that breaks new ground. --The New York Times

extraordinary hard to shake --indieWIRE

One of the greatest war films of this generation. --AMC's Filmcritic.com

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Sergeant Nathan Harris, Ashley Harris, The Marines of Echo Company 2nd Battalion
  • Directors: Danfung Dennis
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: January 24, 2012
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005TZFZD8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,009 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

I don't know what I was thinking at the time. but whatever.
In some respects I suspect it is Dennis’ very success at making this such a seamless film that kept me at an emotional distance from it.
Randal Rauser
I am a war vet myself and this film touched my heart as I can relate.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 31, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
There have been a number of films made about men in combat and/or men returning home from conflict. Any documentary feature about our involvement in recent military events may have the tendency to turn the primary topic to political debate. That's fine as subject matter, but sometimes a more simplistic and candid approach can speak volumes louder than any pointed analysis or commentary. Danfung Dennis' intimate chronicle of one Marine unit's presence in Afghanistan places the focus exactly where it should be--on the soldiers. This is about as realistic a glimpse as you're likely to get at the realities of day to day existence in modern warfare. Photojournalist Danfung was embedded with Echo Company in a 2009 assault on Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan. As such, he was privy to film the everyday struggles pursuing the enemy faction while interacting with the locals. As you might expect, he documents a number of firefights, injuries and even casualties. But he also films many interaction with town elders about how to navigate a peaceful and respectful coexistence. Danfung's presence is never intrusive and his viewpoint really makes you understand the social climate the soldiers dealt with.

But far more than just an in-country document, Danfung crosscuts and juxtaposes the Afghanistan footage with the personal story of Sergeant Nathan Harris as he readjusts to home life after returning from Echo Company with a rather traumatic injury. For the most part, Harris is the voice of the piece. Danfung doesn't conduct typical interviews, the men in Afghanistan aren't explored in depth, and what we're left with is Harris. He represents the every man persona, or every soldier in this case. He is the consummate soldier, seeing nothing outside of being able to return to his duties.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Hector F. on January 27, 2012
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I never leave reviews on anything, But this time I had too. To Hell and Back Again gives you an inside look of what it is Like at War in Combat and the Hardships of Coming Home. I served as a Grunt in the Iraq War and am 27 Years Old. Watching this Documentary was like Watching myself, All Over Again. PTSD and Substance abuse is a Serious Matter and this Video Shows how Real It Is.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert Blake on February 24, 2012
Format: DVD
"Hell And Back Again" is the real, bitter truth behind the glossy Marines commercials, the pompous imperial rhetoric of politicians and it serves as a counterweight to our culture of video game-minded ignorance about war and violence. With a brilliant narrative technique, director Dangfung Dennis follows the trials at home and on the field of Sgt. Nathan Harris, who is seriously wounded in Afghanistan and must adjust to a life of recovery and pain, added to his new struggle is the leftover bloodlust of a senseless conflict.

The film tells two parallel stories of the same man. Dennis intercuts between Harris's time in Afghanistan and his recovery period at home as he deals with medications, finding an appropriate house and realizing his days as a grunt are over. His wife Ashley stands by him the whole way, even enduring the ghosts of war stirring inside him. These are powerful moments in their simplicity, the whole Spartan image teenagers are fed on the TV ads and through neo-propaganda films like the recent "Act Of Valor" is stripped down to the bare reality: The average soldier is a working-class citizen, not a comic book character. Nathan Harris is the perfect embodiment of the modern American male in his mid-20s: Nice but a bit ignorant, we notice he has few interests aside from guns and video games, and as he explains, when he was a teenager he "just wanted to kill people." In that one sentence we see clearly what we're producing as a society: A mindless, aimless generation easily picked up by the war machine and sent to fight in a land they know nothing about.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "Rocky Raccoon" VINE VOICE on March 22, 2012
Format: Blu-ray Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It used to be that the camera was considered the enemy of war. The Tet Offense was shown on the network news and has often been cited as the dealbreaker for The Vietnam War. Now it all depends where and how you aim and shoot, but with a video camera and some skillful editing, you can make some intimate and informative war films. Of course today's support for the soldier has increased, but point-of-view has become essential in how one perceives any modern campaign.

Such is the case for 'Hell and Back Again,' an honest portrait of gung-ho soldier Sergeant Nathan Harris, and a film which criss-crosses between serving the end of his third duty in Afghanistan and his homeridden rehabilitation from a wound he received just days before his last duty ended. At first we see him as an able commander, barking at and leading his troops through some harrowing campaigns as we see their counter insurgency increase the pressure on the Taliban.

At home Ashley, his wife, is supportive, and many of his fellow North Carolina residents receive him warmly. Rehabilitation takes its toll in the Harris home as we see VA meetings, rehabilitation sessions, trips to Wal-Mart, stops for multiple prescriptions, and home scenes generously provided. As we close in on the battles that led to his injury, the fallout of PTSD becomes more apparent. Even the rucuperating soldier admits that he prefers the rigors of Afghanistan over the little hassles that stress him out so keenly on the homefront. A bullet hit him in the hip, rickocheted through his right leg, and left him unable to walk and in great pain. In Afghanistan we seem him as a brave commander and the best of sometimes a bad lot at persuading Afghanistan citizens.
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Hell and Back Again [Blu-ray]
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