Americans have rarely seen war. Even during the World Wars, only a relatively small number of Americans saw war up close. Since the advent of television we have all seen war principally through the eye of the TV camera, reliant on others to sift through the information to present what they deem appropriate to see. One man decided that this was not good enough for him and changed how we understand war forever.
Jake Rademacher is not some detached Hollywood actor seeking greater meaning in his life. He had two brothers in Iraq. Jake had wanted to attend West Point, but was washed out by physical maladies like poor eyesight. His brother, Captain Isaac, had attended West Point and was leading troops in Iraq. Another brother, Sergeant Joe, is a Ranger and was in Iraq as a sniper. While Jake followed news reports daily, he felt a yearning for greater understanding of what his two brothers were going through.
This led Jake on a five-year journey to create his documentary “Brothers at War.” Setting out to show the reality of war-zone experience, Jake was granted special access to his brother’s unit in Iraq. He decided against using any stock footage. He wanted viewers sharing the soldiers’ daily challenges just as he did while living the life of a soldier in the hot, dry, dangerous zones of Iraq. The result produces a film that rivets and gut-wrenches the audience in a manner that no fictional movie ever could. The audience feels the true experience of the modern-day soldiers defending our country.
The film intertwines the experiences in Iraq with the understanding of the Rademacher family dynamic. This family of six children and two devoted parents, hailing from Decatur, Illinois, represents the values of the heartland. That was the background Jake brought to the filmmaking. He always believed that the mainstream media provided an even-handed representation of the news and events in Iraq. But his experiences on the front lines clarified to him that they were misrepresenting the challenges and accomplishments of the troops, making this film ever so more valuable an experience for Jake.