War games make sense, conducted to reenact the war scenarios to provide the troops with an opportunity to assess their abilities and skills. These war games help soldiers in the future in case a combat situation arises. But there is a popular phenomenon that most of us are not familiar with, it is called the war reenactment. But this reenactment is way different then military’s war games. These reenactments feature ordinary people (in most cases) experiencing a certain war in order to either have a perspective or simply for fun.
A couple of indie filmmakers Meghan O’Hara and Mike Attie have produced a documentary ‘In Country’ about a war reenactment group that is very different from any other such groups in the US. The Group conducts the reenactment of the Vietnam War with elaborate scenarios and war machinery. People carry real guns with blanks, dressed according to the stage of the war they are portraying, and performing all the tasks that a soldier performed during Vietnam campaign, The Daily Beast reports.
The documentary shows the crew following and somewhat actively immersing into the reenactment with all the other participants. When researching for their documentary, the filmmakers were especially intrigued by the seriousness and efforts put in by this group into their reenactment. With a bunch of YouTube videos, couple with real life interviews with Vietnam veterans this group prides in keeping the modern American war history alive.
For Mike and Meghan, working alongside this reenactment group was a whole new level of filmmaking. Camera crew had to dress in the special dresses that went inline with the theme of the war they were filming. The group holds its war games annually, and every year theme and location is changed. However, one thing that remains a constant throughout is the toughness of terrain and seriousness of the act. There are no scripts, there are no indicators, once the game starts it is a war zone, at least cognitively and the real life guns and places make this experience super-vivid.
Most of the members of this particular group are U.S veterans from Vietnam and other campaigns like Afghanistan and Iraq. Some war enthusiasts also join them to simply experience the war alongside those who had actually experienced the gruesome events up close. A small group of members act as Vietcong, orchestrating ambushes for the troops and making life tough for them throughout the event.
For the crew filming alongside the reenactors, this experience was nothing less then an actual war zone. The only thing missing was the wounds and death, all the other psychological stress and pressure was alive and kicking in the event. Absence of any script and trekking through unprepared terrain, digging foxholes and planning to escape out of an ambush, brought the participants as close to the war experience as it was possible outside the actual war.