By Leroy Douresseaux
March 29, 2008 - 14:25
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007)
Starring: (voices) Beau Bridges, Robert Duvall, Aaron Eckhart, John Krasinski, Josh Lucas, Peter O’Meara, Blair Underwood, Tobias Wolff, Anthony Swofford, and James Salter; (veterans) Sharon D. Allen, Colby Buzzell, Parker Gyokeres, Sangjoon Han, Ed Hrivnak, Jack Lewis, John McCary, Michael R. Strobl, Michael Thomas, and Bryan Turner
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: Richard Robbins
WRITERS: Colby Buzzell, Edward Parker Gyokeres, Sangjoon Han, Ed Hrivnak, Jack Lewis, John McCary, Denis Prior, Michael Strobl, and Brian Turner
GENRES: Documentary, War
Released to theatres in September 2007 and broadcast as an episode/chapter of PBS’s television miniseries, “America at a Crossroads,” Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience earned a 2008 “Best Documentary” Oscar nomination.
Operation Homecoming focuses on veterans who fought in Iraq as they recount their war experiences by writing about them. It began with a National Endowment of the Arts project to explore the wartime experience of those who fought on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. These writings of the soldiers, which include journals, letters, poetry, and essays, give a deeply personal view of American troops’ involvement in the Iraq war. Director Richard Robbins uses various visual strategies, including archival news footage, photographs, animation, a slide show, illustrations, etc. to complement and illustrate the writings. Operation Homecoming also includes interviews and readings by noted actors (Robert Duvall, Blair Underwood) and writers (Tobias Wolff, Tom O’Brien, and James Salter).
Simply put, Richard Robbins’ film humanizes the servicemen and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For many people, especially those without family and friends serving, the military men and women simply come across as video images and sound bites – powerful sounds and images, but still mostly ethereal. Here, getting to hear the first hand accounts of servicemen and women – them speaking to us in their own words – brings the war home and, in a way, connects us to them. For me, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience finally made me see our servicemen and women as more than just fighters, as I began to see them as my fellow countrymen.
2008 Academy Award: 1 nomination for “Best Documentary, Features” (Richard Robbins)