I was caught off guard yesterday when I came across OPERATION HOMECOMING as a pick in the “FILM” section of Sunday’s New York Times “The Week Ahead.” The documentary, which has actors Robert Duvall, Aaron Eckhart and Josh Lucas doing voiceover readings of poems and letters by soldiers, airs on NPT-Channel 8 on Monday, April 16 at 8 p.m. as OPERATION HOMECOMING: WRITING THE WARTIME EXPERIENCE. Why the film section, instead of the television section? It turns out that the film is actually opening theatrically this Friday in Los Angeles and Boston and will also be released in other cities. It first debuted in February at the Film Forum in New York City.
A film opening theatrically the weekend before it airs on PBS is certainly a unique situation, which is perhaps why Sharon Waxman of the Times calls the documentary “unusual.” She could also mean that there hasn’t been a documentary like it. It’s a unique piece of filmmaking, with voiceover readings of different soldiers’ personal works — soldiers who are also on film being interviewed about their experience — interspersed with readings of classic war literature. All of this accompanied by a kind of “still-animation,” if that’s what it’s called. It’s truly unique and engaging television.
The documentary is also interesting because it’s part of an initiative created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which worked with the filmmaker Richard E. Robbins.
OPERATION HOMECOMING: WRITING THE WARTIME EXPERIENCE airs as part of the weeklong AMERICA AT A CROSSROADS series.
OPERATION HOMECOMING: WRITING THE WARTIME EXPERIENCE
NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS
ROTTEN TOMATOES also has some reviews.