Walking Wounded: Review

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Walking Wounded

4seven, Fri 22 Feb, 10PM

Taking photographs of innocent men, women and children who have had limbs blown off by land mines and mortar fire is a horrendous job at the best of times. But the task surely becomes almost unbearable when three of your own precious body parts have also been obliterated in the same gruesome fashion.

Not so according to Giles Duley, the 40-year-old photo journalist who stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device two years ago and suffered life-threatening injuries as a result. In 2011, he joined American troops in Afghanistan to capture images of the conflict when his world was shattered by an explosion which cost him both legs and his left arm.

In Walking Wounded: Return To The Frontline, Duley makes the journey back to Afghanistan to finish his assignment: telling the stories of innocent civilians caught in the conflict. Despite battling nightmarish flashbacks and sleepless nights, for Duley, making the trip is a vital part of “taking the pause button off and getting on with his jobâ€?.

A candid look at the physical and mental trials faced by Duley in the two years since his accident allows plenty of time to put one’s own piffling problems into context at the outset of the hour long programme. Losing three limbs is no paper cut, after all. And one of the most heartache-inducing moments come as he reveals the realities of “never being able to hug againâ€?.

This, however, was not what Duley really wants to show us.

Nobody can deny the scale of what faced this man faced when he woke up in a morphine-induced stupor three limbs lighter. But the documentary’s strength is in exposing the harsher, bleaker realities facing the poorest victims of the war in Afghanistan: the prospect of a life without work, without a partner and without a safe place to return home to.

This stark juxtapostion makes for uncomfortable viewing at times. There is also no shortage of (justifiably) gruesome footage. Ultimately, however, it is Duley’s obligation to the rest of war-torn humanity, and his reluctance to shrink back from telling the hardest of stories, that makes this documentary the powerful and life-affirming watch that it is.

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