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Press Reaction

The New York Times Alessandra Stanley

"... 'A Company of Soldiers,' an excellent 'Frontline' documentary on PBS tonight, does not presage peace or quagmire in Iraq. Instead it casts a light, close up and unwaveringly, on how the occupation looked and felt to a small group of soldiers in a small outpost in southern Baghdad at a particularly violent period in November 2004. And that snapshot, of course, says more about the nature of war than any number of satellite photos and Pentagon briefings. With a bumpy night-vision lens, the filmmakers show just how unwieldy urban warfare is. They show how camaraderie hardens into love under fire and how violence, when it rains down out of nowhere, shocks and terrifies even the best-trained troops.

"... a complicated war is broken down into small pieces to show how some individuals rise to occasions that have no nobility of their own. ...

"There are some playful moments and many sad, troubling ones. But mostly, it is a documentary of young soldiers under siege from an invisible enemy. It is an antidote to tales of torture of Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib -- a respectful and sympathetic portrait of American troops risking their lives. ..."

The New York Sun David Blum

"... dispassionate yet terrifying... Shot with handheld cameras and often in darkness, this close-up portrait of soldiers at work isn't likely to change the way we think about the war; it's not about the larger issues at play, and doesn't try to answer profound questions about the reasons for our presence in Iraq. Instead it simply puts a human face on the terrifying nature of the world's first 21st-century war, and demonstrates palpably the real and constant dangers faced by American combat forces in Iraq. ..."

San Francisco Chronicle Tim Goodman

"... powerfully moving...

"'A Company of Soldiers' should be required viewing in this country, if only because most news reports about Iraq have all been so similarly reported -- a roadside bomb, the number of dead, then onto something else -- it's easy to forget the reality. ...

"'A Company of Soldiers' is riveting because its realness doesn't seem especially unique. You get the sense that hundreds of patrols and thousands of soldiers are in this kind of constant peril at all times. ...

"There are too many gripping moments to mention in this documentary. ... This is a slice of the Iraq war, taken over the course of a month, with the Misfits of Dog Company, who stand in nicely for every other group of soldiers scattered across the country. It's a snippet of their story, a part of our muted national dialogue. ..."

The Baltimore Sun David Zurawik

"... So skillful is their use of cinema verite, fly-on-the-wall point of view as embedded correspondents that director Tom Roberts and producer Edward Jarvis create the illusion, during particularly intense moments of the film, that one is seeing the war through the eyes of the soldiers rather than watching it on a screen. It is the kind of superior filmmaking that turns the abstract into pictures and words that are personal and deeply felt. ...

"... the kind of reality that TV should be delivering."

The Boston Globe Brian MacQuarrie

"... helps the viewer put an eye-level, human face on the reams of written reporting and television dispatches that have come from war-torn Iraq during the past two years. ...

"The 'Frontline' team does a superb job of capturing the perils of soldiering in Iraq, even as the usually cool demeanor of the men in Dog Company belies the life-and-death nature of their day-to-day existence. ...

"Dispassionate, compelling, and unblinking, 'A Company of Soldiers' is an important contribution to understanding the danger and complexities that confront the ordinary soldier in Iraq."

The Wall Street Journal Nancy DeWolf Smith

"... fascinating, moving and sometimes troubling..."

San Jose Mercury News Charlie McCollum

"While it doesn't have quite the same breadth, 'A Company of Soldiers' can easily be viewed as a modern day 'Band of Brothers.' ... While much of 'Company' deals with the combat, it also does a superior job of profiling the soldiers themselves and of suggesting just how hard even peaceful 'nation-building' can be. The film may be, as it says, 'a single window on the complicated realities of war,' but it's definitely one worth your time."

Houston Chronicle Mike McDaniel

"... The story of Dog Company, though it may be commonplace in the war theater of Iraq, resonates as an extraordinary story of brotherhood. ..."

New York Post Adam Buckman

"... For the most part, 'A Company of Soldiers,' is a straight-ahead documentary that does a pretty good job depicting the war in Iraq from the fighting man's point of view.

"Occasionally though, it slips unnecessarily into 'Apocalypse Now' mode, complete with eerie music and a narrator who speaks in a voice reminiscent of Martin Sheen as Capt. Willard..."

Los Angeles Times Kevin Crust

"... compelling...

"... 'A Company of Soldiers' finds a story from Iraq worth telling. ..."

The Hartford Courant Roger Catlin

"... does a good job getting closer than most news crews to the actual work of the soldier on the ground, with its lurking terror and occasional tears at the loss of a buddy. ..."

The Seattle Times Kay McFadden

"... vivid, intimate slice of military life during our very nasty war in Iraq.

"... It shows us the crazed terror of combat, where soldiers seem to teeter on the brink one moment and then pull back to an impressive level of calm the next.

"It also reveals the psychological toll taken when you don't know whom to trust, when the wrong person gets shot and when your efforts to help local Iraqis are thwarted by not only enemies but so-called allies. ..."

The Oregonian Ted Mahar

"... It is quite possible that this is the closest we can come, so far, to having even the barest comprehension of what it's like on the ground for our people in Iraq. Even then, the camera crew is always in plain sight, so the soldiers are always behaving as agreeably as they can. ..."

The Dallas Morning News Manuel Mendoza

"... a primer in the day-to-day difficulties of trying to rebuild a country while under attack from unseen guerrillas. ..."

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posted feb. 22, 2005

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