Written and Directed by Stacey Stone
Interviews by Diane Mellen
Documentary Film Review by Chris Olson
In an enhancement of Stacey Stone's collective documentary works on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) comes her most affecting piece yet. Forever Under Siege is a brutally honest exploration of the reintegration process experienced by American war veterans, examining a plethora of aspects and issues; from the physical and psychological impact of warfare, to the political culpability of sending troops into a needless war.
If, like me, you have been fortunate enough to see some of Stone's previous documentaries such as My Own War and Gander: America's Hero Dog, you will instantly see in Forever Under Siege some recognisable faces. In fact, Stone and producer Diane Mellen, who also conducts the candid interviews, use a lot of the same footage. Instead of robbing any of the films of their potency, this reexamination, along with new footage, provides a probing and virile cinematic experience.
One of the most interesting aspects of Forever Under Siege is the documentary's penchant for waging its own war on the politics behind conflict. We hear about how many years the young nation has been at war since its inception, and the ludicrously large numbers of fatalities and injuries in locations where the enemy had never launched an attack against the U.S. Furthermore, the movie does not dilute the emotional impact of these statistics. By having war vets explain their stories directly alongside these harrowing truths, each scene is like a dropkick to the chest, culminating in an overwhelming sense of tragedy. It was also interesting to see a few speeches from prominent American politicians who spoke passionately about the cost of conflict for Americans.
Balancing this heavy condemnation is a strikingly contrasting insight into the numerous and creative ways that American veterans and civilians are producing to combat PTSD and it's heartbreaking effects. There is a notion made during the documentary about the need for vets to experience as many rituals coming home from war as the army provides when they send them there. The countless ways in which we see former soldiers and service men and women coming together and partaking in an activity such as singing or sculpting is a joyous thing to watch and an honour to be a part of. This is then further emboldened by several of the talking heads who express the dire need for so many coping mechanisms and treatment options in order to provide at least some kind of relief from the anguish and suffering which PTSD causes.
Evoking the same stomach-churning emotional impact of her previous films, Stacey Stone's Forever Under Siege is a compelling and affecting contribution, not only to her own body of work, but the PTSD genre as a whole. The immensely moving scenes and sombre subject matter create a thoroughly engaging experience for the audience, who will also feel enriched by the honesty, pathos, and relentless spirit of the interviewees.
Watch the official movie trailer for Forever Under Siege below...