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Not Yet Begun To Fight

by Leonard Maltin
November 1, 2013 12:02 AM
1 Comment
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Marine Corporal Erik Goodge, age 21
Photo by Justin Lubke Marine Corporal Erik Goodge, age 21

Hype-masters toss around the word “inspiring” with reckless abandon, but this modest documentary actually earns that accolade. I also found it humbling and insightful. Not Yet Begun to Fight is the story of a retired Marine colonel who discovered that the only remedy for his post-combat stress was fly-fishing. It brought him inner peace, and he reasoned that the same process might work for other returning vets. That’s when he founded Warriors & Quiet Waters.

This film follows a group of young veterans who are recovering from severe mental and physical injuries they suffered while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of their issues are obvious—loss of limbs and limited mobility—while others are much subtler. We follow them during a week’s sojourn to Bozeman, Montana, where they are placed in the care of experienced fishermen (and one woman) who mentor them in the fine art of fly-fishing, a tranquil pursuit that requires patience as well as skill.

This is not a slickly packaged reality-show experience. Through the filmmakers, Shasta Grenier and Sabrina Lee, we become witnesses to an evolutionary process. Like its subject, the film is quiet and low-key; it takes its time and the pacing is deliberate. Over the course of one week, we not only come to know these men as individuals, but witness them coming out of their shell, bit by bit. Ultimately, they benefit not only from the activity of fishing but the interaction with people who genuinely care about them.

Marine Captain and helicopter pilot Blake Smith after a day of fly fishing on the Madison River.
Photo by Justin Lubke Marine Captain and helicopter pilot Blake Smith after a day of fly fishing on the Madison River.

Not Yet Begun to Fight isn’t flashy, and may not win the plaudits that some higher-profile documentaries are earning this fall, but I think it’s exceptional. If you want to learn more about the organization it profiles, click HERE

For New York/Los Angeles show times and locations click HERE. Not Yet Begun to Fight will air on PBS on or around Veterans Day. Check your local PBS listings for dates and times.  

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1 Comment

  • Christine | November 10, 2013 2:56 PMReply

    My husband and I are amazed at these young men, by their tenacity, to come back from such disastrous wounds & life changing events. It makes our trials & tribulations seem much easier to bear. Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation is a work we ought to all get behind and support!

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