Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience

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Ratings: 7.75/10 from 8 users.

Storyline

Operation Homecoming - Writing the Wartime ExperienceWriting about experience necessarily sanitizes it, theorizes Sangjoon Han, a Korean-American soldier who fought in Iraq and is one of many articulate talking heads in Richard E. Robbins’s documentary Operation Homecoming. Built around the firsthand recollections of soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the film is a spinoff from an anthology of essays, e-mail messages, poems and letters compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts and published by Random House.

Mr. Han’s Aftermath, a fictional composite of several events, is one of the strongest and most sophisticated contributions. Written from the dual perspectives of a fleeing Iraqi farmer and an American soldier who shoots him after repeatedly shouting at him to stop, it reaches a tragically absurd conclusion in which the American treats the farmer whose vital organs were piled on top of him with an IV.

As you absorb the most graphic images of combat and how it changes people in these works written by soldiers but read by nine actors, sanitize is not a word that comes to mind. The best pieces portray combat as such a heightened sensory experience that it demands to be written about, and they suggest that war can turn ordinary men who wouldn't think of keeping diaries into latter-day Hemingways.

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1 comment / user review

  1. Robbie Klapp

    A true testament of the horrors of WAR. Since time immemorial, we humans have bean entrenched and forced to swallow this bitter pill. This documentary is as true to the heart of the struggle of the soldier as I have seen. May our creator have mercy upon us...for all too often, we know not what we do. Yet the residue of what we do weighs heavy on the hearts of our consciences.I pray that through the testimony of these witnesses and the memories of the fallen, we can learn to love, care and nurture one another.

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