User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7

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  1. Jwv
    Jan 9, 2014
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The documentary starts off with a thought provoking contrast. We land in the middle of a deadly Afghan war scene, only to see the marines' family reunion in America shortly after. This contrast suggests the frightful incompatibility of these scenes, and hints at the question of how the marines cope with this.

    During the story of Nathan back home, our point of view shifts from time to time to the Afghan war scene. These suggest the flashbacks that Nathan experiences.

    Ironic scenes from Nathan playing Call of Duty confront the viewer with the barbarity it is of reducing war to an enjoyable video game.

    The strongest moment in the film features one of Obama's speeches touching on the Afghan war. The film suggests the ridiculousness, emptiness and idiocy of Obama's idealized speeches about war, and subtly subverts it when a wounded and indifferent Nathan comments: "Well, Afgan people aren't watching." This film suggests that even physically unharmed marines come home profoundly wounded, be it emotional. Nathan's neurotic and unpredictable behaviour makes us question what injury cuts deeper, the physical or the emotional.
  2. Mar 1, 2012
    Its good. It mixes the war with real life without either overcoming the other. Whilst it is a documentary it does not dictate the story to you but it flows from the screen providing you with the questions.
  3. Feb 11, 2012
    Another year, another war documentary. This time, filmmaker Danfung Dennis turns the eye of his camera on Nathan Harris, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, who leads his 2nd platoon further into insurgent strongholds in hopes of turning the tide of war in Afghanistan. The opening of the film features a firefight between U.S. forces and insurgents in the area where Lance Corporal Charles Sharp is killed in action, bringing the violence home for many viewers.

    The film then announces, via title cards, that Sergeant Nathan Harris is severely wounded in combat, and he has returned home with a fractured pelvis and severely broken leg from a bullet that tore through his right side. This part of the film focuses on Harrisâ

Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Feb 23, 2012
    This structure persuasively depicts combat and recovery as two sides of the same struggle, and Dennis strengthens his argument by maintaining a constant perspective throughout: the camera is always within a few feet of the subject.
  2. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Feb 22, 2012
    In its closing scenes, Hell and Back Again builds to an emotional and stylistic power that we didn't see coming.
  3. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Feb 13, 2012
    Dennis's film attempts something few documentaries have: to inhabit the psyche of its subject.