Junger’s film also seems to question whether Hetherington took his desire to be on the front line too far. According to the documentary, Hetherington, who was 40 when he died, was conflicted about his desire to settle down with his girlfriend, Idil Ibrahim, and his quest to tell the story of war. In the documentary he even acknowledges that war photography can be a “very destructive thing to carry on beyond a certain age.”
The film ends with footage Hetherington shot in Misrata before he and Hondros were killed, including a visit inside a building were rebel soldiers were trying to smoke out enemy snipers by sending burning tires into rooms where they were barricaded.
The area felt unsafe to some journalists who had been with Hetherington and his group earlier that day, including photographer Andre Liohn, who questions in the film whether the group had put themselves in unnecessary danger.
“In the war you lose a lot of things (and) one of the things that you lose can be the original connection that took you there,” Liohn says. “I felt they were not paying the proper attention and the proper respect to everything that was happening around. They were trying to get in front of the rebels.”
Junger said he included Liohn’s comments because he still struggles with the question of whether Hetherington took too much of a risk that day.
“The decision to go out to the front line is inherently risky. It’s inherently understandable because front lines are compelling. And it’s inherently stupid. It’s all of them at the same time,” Junger said. “Everyone makes that decision, and most of the time it goes fine. And when it doesn’t go fine everyone goes, ‘What the hell were you thinking?’”
Junger added, “That said, I do wonder why after the intensity of fighting that Tim was part of in the morning, why he felt compelled to go out for a second dose, a second helping? That I don’t quite get. But had I been there, I think I would have been perfectly capable of doing the same thing. So I don’t want to be too judgmental about it. But I do wonder.”
I talked to Sebastian Junger about his Tim Hetherington documentary (via Yahoo News)