‘Journey Home’ is by far one of the most captivating and inspirational documentaries we’ve seen in the past couple of months, presenting the stories of four World War II veterans who witnessed different parts of the war at different times. What is unalike in Tamara Nance’s project is the overall approach that will leave you as a viewer breathless.
We are accustomed to the World War narrative as each year in the official selection list we receive at least three or four major feature films depicting a part of WW1 or WW2, or at least a significant battle. In each of those movies, we can see the stories of the soldiers who fought, viewed from a first or third person perspective, stories of heroism and of martyrs who gave their lives in order to save other hundreds or thousands. In Tamara Nance’s featurette, however, the stories are way more personal, and the viewer gets to be closer to the war hero, the one who is narrating one face of the war.
From ‘Fury’ to ‘Dunkirk’ and from ‘Band of Brothers’ to ‘Pacific’, we have been presented with stories specifically from the war-zone, but how about those of the men who had other attributes in the war? Don O’Hair, for example, was one of the men designated to do the repatriation and other graveyard related activities. It may sound easy, and we bet there will be people asking why this is important or at least even relevant to the war, but in reality, his work was as hard as being part of the D-Day landings. Many of the soldiers fought the war, and all they could think of was how to stay alive, and how to protect their brothers in arms. What Don did was to dig for the ones who failed to do so, or were too weak or unlucky to find a way for themselves. There is no way this job of doing the grave digging was easier for the men in charge, as this may break you more than the actual battle; to recognize your brothers only based on their dog-tags, to clean their bones and then place them peacefully in a coffin… well, this may be way harder than one may think.