09 September, 2007

Alive Day Memories--Updated

[Updated and bumped (originally posted 0641). Scroll down for newer stuff]

"Alive Day" is a label many wounded apply to the day they were hit--the day they could've died but lived instead. HBO has taken that label for a new documentary by James Gandolfini of Sopranos fame that seems to be worth checking out.

As regular readers know, the well-being and treatment of the wounded is a subject that is very close to my heart. So, when I hear of a documentary being done about the experiences of some of them, I start to get nervous. I worry that it will be exploitative or condescending, or in some way pitying--anyone who works with the wounded knows that in most cases, offers of pity are generally not well-received.

Somehow I ended up on the publicity list for HBO's Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq (being broadcast today) awhile ago, but I knew I had to take the time to explore it before I could endorse it. Upon getting around to reading what people who had already seen it had to say, I found most of them seemed to be viewing it through an anti-war cognitive lens that made it hard to identify the film's actual message. But simply on the basis of the following, this sounds promising. It seems Gandolfini lets interviewees speak for themselves [click on the video and see the sidebar for more excerpts and media coverage]:

The first interviewee is Bryan Anderson, whom I've written about before, and there are others in the video who have also received the help of Soldiers' Angels and Valour-IT. This sounds like worthwhile viewing, if only for the chance to see the kinds of people that need our physical and emotional support as they continue to recover from devastating wounds.

There is one concern, however: the documentary includes insurgent video of successful attacks, including those that injured the veterans featured in the film. From the tone of the preview, it seems those videos are treated as archival footage relevant to the story being told, and not as something to gasp and gawk over. Still, I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea...

Alive Day Memories is being broadcast today, and will be repeated a number of times in the coming month [click and search for "alive day"]. I don't have Cable, so I would appreciate the report of anyone who is willing and able to watch. I hope Alive Day Memories is as worthwhile as the trailer seems to promise.

Update: Wounded veteran JR Salzman gives it his full endorsement. And if you miss it today, you can also stream it on on HBO.com from 11:30PM EST Sunday September 9th until Sunday September 16th.

[cross-posted at Castle Argghhh!; h/t to Blackfive for the Salzman link and streaming info]