‘Combat Obscura’ Trailer Takes a Vérité Look Inside the Marine Corps

Written by on February 18, 2019 

One of the very best documentaries we saw on the festival circuit last year was Combat Obscura, which premiered at last year’s True/False Film Festival. The film, which will get a release this March, comes from Miles Lagoze, who took footage he shot as a Marine combat camera operator in Afghanistan, as well as videos taken by his comrades, and edited it all into a brisk, intense hour of war vignettes. Oscilloscope has now released the first trailer along with the poster.

Dan Schindel said in his review, “Combat Obscura sinks deeper into darkness as it progresses, as the utter pointlessness and futility of America’s presence in Afghanistan overwhelms the troops. While we are initially invited to empathize with the Marines, their jokey comradery gives way to vicious menace. There is no apparent mission, just a loop of injuries and reprisals against an amorphous outside threat. The final two scenes are a despairing diptych. In the first, the men realize they’ve killed an unarmed shopkeeper and plot to cover it up. In the second, one of them is seriously wounded in a firefight and they scramble to get him airlifted to aid. There is no point to any of it, just horror. That is all there is to this war, and no uplifting words will ameliorate it.”

See the trailer and poster below.

Just out of high school, at the age of 18, Miles Lagoze enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was deployed to Afghanistan where he served as Combat Camera — his unit’s official videographer, tasked with shooting and editing footage for the Corps’ recruiting purposes and historical initiatives. But upon discharging, Lagoze took all the footage he and his fellow cameramen shot, and he assembled quite simply the very documentary the Corps does not want you to see. COMBAT OBSCURA is a groundbreaking look at the daily life of Marines in a war zone as told by the soldiers themselves. More than a mere compilation of violence, the edit ingeniously repurposes the original footage to reveal the intensity and paradoxes of an ambiguous war from an unvarnished perspective.

Combat Obscura opens in select theaters and on VOD on March 15.


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