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Movie Review | Chosin: A Documentary by Brian Iglesias (2010)

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


The US Marines faced Chinese troops and the threat of frostbite at Chosin Reservoir.

Chosin by Brian Iglesias, a documentary about the brutal Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.

At the end of November and into December of 1950, the US 1st Marine Division and the 3rd Infantry found themselves surrounded at Chosin Reservoir, North Korea, by seven divisions of the Chinese Volunteer Army. Mao Zedong's Peoples Republic of China, created just the previous year, had sent "volunteers" to drive U.N. forces back from the Chinese/North Korean border. Soldiers on both sides faced horrendously cold weather and frostbite; the American troops were cut off from reinforcement, and endured "human wave" attacks by thousands of Chinese.

In Chosin: A Documentary, director Brian Iglesias brings this brutal battle to life, using interviews with American survivors as well as still photos and video from the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. The documentary is extremely effective; the elderly Marine and Army veterans tell stories of incredible courage and unendurable suffering in a matter-of-fact way, giving viewers a window into one of the most tragic moments in the Korean War.

Brian Iglesias has provided a wonderful service to his audience, but also to history in recording these veterans' memories on film. My one regret about this documentary is that it considers only the American perspective on Chosin. Had it included interviews with Korean or Chinese survivors, or the descendants of the 96,000 civilian refugees rescued by the Americans at Chosin, then it would have been a five-star film without a doubt.

I highly recommend Chosin: A Documentary to anyone with an interest in the Korean War, or more generally to anyone who values stories of human determination and heroism under the worst of conditions. This documentary will shock you, make you feel sick, but also uplift your spirit and give you a much better sense of what it was like to fight in the Korean War.

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