This artful, melancholic film sees British documentary-maker Michael Grigsby revisit the lives of three Vietnam veterans in smalltown Texas whom he first encountered in his 1970 film ‘I Was a Soldier’. With sorrowful inevitability, Grigsby finds that time has not healed all: two of the men still bear the deep psychological scars of conflict and the other died more than a decade ago of the after-effects of being exposed to Agent Orange, leaving a wounded widow and angry daughter.
Counselling and compensation have eluded these men, and there’s a troubling sense of time having not moved on at all – something movingly stressed by Grigsby in a compelling sequence in which we see the same person driving round a virtually identical block both now and in 1970. Just as his subjects have so much space to think and too little way of processing those thoughts, so this film allows us space for silence, observation and reflection.
Seventy-six-year-old Grigsby died earlier this month, so ‘We Went to War’ is his final film.