16mm to HD Video, 19min, Color, 2010.
"With History Minor, Ryan Garrett routes us through a different view of the past. Shot using the equipment of a '70s new program, he films a Vietnam War reenactment that took place in the woods of Jackson, Mississippi in 2008. At first, it's difficult to discern Garrett's footage from actual war reportage: with the tinny radio sound of Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells singing "Talk Back Tremblin' Lips", the men aim and clean their guns, flip idly through issues of Playboy, and nap with their hats covering their faces. Soon, however, the period fašade begins to crack. One soldier is seen holding a plastic water bottle; another stands next to a black-robed Vietcong. You begin to notice that the men seem older, heavier, and altogether healthier (though probably in need of a long shower) than they should. Garrett intersperses these scenes of battle preparation with interviews he conducts with the soldiers, many of whom are veterans of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each answer the same set of questions: name, age, rank, date of enlistment; views of the mission, the Vietnamese, and the anti-war protestors. The youngest is a believable 20 year-old, and he's also the steeliest. When asked if he has anything to say to the folks back home, he smiles and shakes his head. "Nothing", he replies with chilling resolve. Whether the reenactment is meant to be a form of fantasy fulfillment or psychiatric treatment is unclear; Garrett dutifully plays along as reporter in this uncanny rehearsal of traumatic pasts and presents. The film ends in fire, and as machinegun rounds light up the night sky, the silhouetted men emerge momentarily until they recede into the darkness and yelling again.
"Yue, Genevieve. "Measuring Distance: A Review of the 24th Images Festival," Senses of Cinema, Issue 59."