In 2009, 25-year-old Marine Sergeant Nathan Harris was severely injured by Taliban gunfire on the last day of his deployment in Afghanistan. For the previous six months, he and the rest of Echo Company 2nd Battalion had been filmed in action by Danfung Dennis, an embedded photojournalist. Dennis followed Nathan back to North Carolina to tape him and his supportive wife Ashley as the veteran struggles to re-adjust to civilian life, and mend the enormous physical and emotional wounds he sustained in battle.
Nominated for best documentary at the Oscars, “Hell” is an affecting, up-close look at one soldier’s experience in war, and the steep price paid afterward, including physical rehab and debilitating pills to dull the pain from which Nathan Harris may never recover. (Incredibly, his heart and soul still belong to the Marine Corps: he says he’d re-enlist if he could.) Intercutting scenes from Afghanistan and North Carolina, the movie vividly contrasts the chaos of war with the tedium of life at home. The impact of this searing documentary sneaks up on you, then stays with you. This is one “Hell” worth visiting.