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We Went to War Review


This follow-up documentary is so low-key that some audiences might miss its significance, but what it has to say is staggeringly important. And by using such a pure form of filmmaking, recently deceased director Grigsby finds new insight into the issue of returning war veterans. What sets this film apart is that it returns to the three soldiers at the centre of 1970's landmark ITV doc I Was a Soldier, the first film to follow veterans returning from Vietnam.

That earlier film centred on three young men: David, Dennis and Lamar. Back in their rural Texas ranching town, they tried to pick up their lives where they left off. Only of course, they had changed profoundly. This film intercuts clips of the young men in 1970 with new interviews 40 years later. David still feels cut off from his previous life, although he relies on his friends to help "push the hurt away". Dennis says it took 20 years to stop having nightmares, and he rarely speaks of his experiences with his large family. And Lamar died in 2002 at age 55 of cancer brought on by exposure to Agent Orange. His widow and daughter speak about how he drank to numb his pain, even though alcohol made his flashbacks even worse.

But interviews are only a small part of the film, as much of the screen time just watches how these men live. Mixing clips from the 1970 film alongside new images and home movies, it's fascinating to see that many aspects of life are unchanged, although the town's family businesses are almost all boarded up now. And it's not just Lamar's family that felt the effects of Agent Orange. Much more interesting, and largely unprecedented on film, is the way Grigsby quietly captures the long-term impact of combat duty in these men's faces.

Continue reading: We Went to War Review

Picture - David Johnson - MCM Birmingham... Birmingham United Kingdom, Saturday 16th March 2013

David Johnson - MCM Birmingham Memorabilia Comic Con at Birmingham NEC - Birmingham, United Kingdom - Saturday 16th March 2013

Picture - Esther Stilwell, Ashley Spencer, Tony... New York City, USA, Tuesday 30th August 2011

Tony Danza, Anastacia, David Johnson and Nick Adams - Esther Stilwell, Ashley Spencer, Tony Sheldon, Tony Danza, Will Swenson, Nick Adams, Anastacia McCleskey, and C. David Johnson Tuesday 30th August 2011 at Palace Theatre New York City, USA

Picture - Tony Sheldon, Gavin Lodge, Martha... New York City, USA, Tuesday 12th July 2011

Nick Adams and David Johnson - Tony Sheldon, Gavin Lodge, Martha Wash, Nick Adams and C. David Johnson Tuesday 12th July 2011 at Palace Theatre New York City, USA

Picture - Gavin Lodge, Ellyn Marie Marsh,... New York City, USA, Tuesday 12th July 2011

Nick Adams, Anastacia and David Johnson - Gavin Lodge, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Tony Sheldon, Martha Wash, Nick Adams, Jacqueline B. Arnold, Anastacia McCleskey and C. David Johnson Tuesday 12th July 2011 at Palace Theatre New York City, USA

Picture - Nick Adams, Paul Shaffer, Will... 'It's Raining Men' composer, Paul Shaffer, visits the cast of the Broadway musical 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'. The song is featured in the musical at the Palace Theatre. New York City, USA, Wednesday 8th June 2011

Nick Adams and David Johnson Wednesday 8th June 2011 Nick Adams, Paul Shaffer, Will Swenson, Tony Sheldon and C. David Johnson 'It's Raining Men' composer, Paul Shaffer, visits the cast of the Broadway musical 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert'. The song is featured in the musical at the Palace Theatre. New York City, USA

David Johnson:
News Pictures Film

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