Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007)

I was admittedly very skeptical with Robbins’ war time documentary for the simple fact that I’m frankly tired of seeing war time documentaries that attempt to sway me one way or the other. I’m either watching a cleaned up war through the eyes of the soldiers who beg for sympathy, or through some pundit bemoaning the Iraq War endlessly and harping on our doomed country in a war that may not end too soon.

“Operation Homecoming,” in spite of your views on the war is gladly very objective focusing on human suffering and grief rather than attempting to persuade the audience of something. It’s neither patriotic nor unpatriotic, and it’s neither observational CNN fodder nor right wing swill. “Operation Homecoming” is instead the artistic recounting of many stories on the front line and on the way home in the way of soldiers who returned home with some story to tell and were helped by skilled authors to put their demons and anguish into words. Through different formats of live action, documentary, and animation, Robbins aspires to deliver the modern twist on the Civil War letters with many of our young men and woman looking in despair at moments of pure horror from a shootout occurring in a city, to the doldrums of the same breakfast at a military outpost.

Narrated and dictated with gusto thanks to an all star cast including Robert Duvall and Josh Lucas, “Operation Homecoming” can often be a gripping take on the war time experience based on the perspective of actual armed services who can barely come to grips with all that they’ve seen and yet draw back to the bloodshed they’ve come face to face with. There’s not a lot of regret or commentary when the soldiers introduce or explain their stories and that will leave the audience with a particular provocation to decide for themselves what sort of war we’re in and if the US will ever fully recover from the scars and wounds.

Robbins war documentary is for the spectator to come to terms with what’s occurring on the battle field and it gives a wonderful impartial view of the current war that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. These are stories that should be told in spite of the media’s attempts to skew faces, and “Operation Homecoming” is a wonderful recounting of tales of the battlefield and coming home to face normality with a honorable tribute and classy delivery. Surprising, disturbing, and sad, “Operation Homecoming” is a unique take on the war time experience with some startling recollection and a unique format that gives way to a gritty look at the Iraq war.