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♪♪

KELLY: Memory is a powerful thing.

♪♪

There are some events that stick in the mind...

♪♪

...forever defining

the difference between before and after,

and instantly redefining everything that matters.

For the soldiers and families

of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division,

memories of April 4, 2004, still loom large.

AGUERO: Where the hell is everyone?

♪♪

CHEN: Ambush!

(clock ticking)

KELLY: Stories summed up in a single date

that has come to be known simply as Black Sunday.

WILD: You make memories on days like April 4th

that you never forget about, no matter how much you want to.

KELLY: Reconciling these memories

can be the work of a lifetime.

Simply revisiting them takes an uncommon bravery.

GUZMAN: Everybody was scared. I mean, we're all human.

I thought I was gonna die that day.

♪♪

KELLY: Re-creating these moments

is work of another kind...

SALOMON: Action!

KELLY: ...requiring an equally uncommon passion.

ALANNE: I took the responsibility very seriously

that this was a true story,

and we're dealing with real-life people.

BEAVERS: I am humbled to be a part of this.

I feel so much privilege.

BOSWORTH: I feel very honored to tell this story.

KELLY: 13 years after Black Sunday,

National Geographic and a dedicated team of filmmakers

are bringing these events to life...

SALOMON: And Action!

KELLY: Working hand-in-hand with the soldiers

and families who were there to tell their stories,

and honor the memory of those who were lost.

I owe it to them to do this the best that I can,

because the country should know.

This is "First Look: The Long Road Home."

RIDDELL: Sir? AGUERO: Punch us through!

RIDDELL: Aah!

♪♪

♪♪

ALANNE: April 4, 2004, was the fourth day in Iraq

for a 1st Calvary Division platoon.

So, 19 men were out on sanitation duty.

JACKSON: How is this warriors' work?

ALANNE: None of these men had ever been in combat before.

HAYHURST: Welcome to Sadr City, Jackson.

RADDATZ: They thought they were going

to keep the peace over there.

SPICER: We wanted to work with the people

and do something positive,

and not just roll in there like an occupation force.

VOLESKY: Let's try to keep the peace.

Red One, return to base. Over.

AGUERO: Roger that, Lancer Six.

ALANNE: And then, just as they're about to head back

to their forward operating base...

AGUERO: Listen. Was that... (machine-gun fire)

ALANNE: ...they were ambushed. (machine-gun fire)

BOURQUIN: Watch that glide! Stop the vehicle!

(tires screech)

Comanche Red, this is Red Four!

We have contact! SLEVIN: Within minutes,

we came under fire from essentially all directions.

(indistinct shouting)

ALANNE: Two of their vehicles became disabled...

BOURQUIN: We got to get the hell off of this street.

ALANNE: ...so they had to seek shelter in the city,

and became trapped with a family in the middle of this maze,

and no one had any idea where they were.

LUPITA: We just heard something happened in Sadr City.

LeAnn: It's just a peacekeeping mission.

They'll be fine. ALANNE: So now

equally newly-arrived men who didn't know the city

had to go in, in unarmored Humvees

and open trucks to get their brothers.

ARSIAGA: We'll be sitting ducks.

BEAVERS: A litany of rescue attempts went out

to try to get to where these guys were pinned down.

RANDAZZO: Stay alert.

Lancer Six and Rescue Two are inbound.

SPICER: Three more blocks to Delta, sir.

WEIBLEY: Burning debris ahead!

RITTER: On the way there, roads are blocked off

and they're shooting at them from all angles.

ALANNE: It was an extraordinarily brave

and costly rescue mission.

AGUERRO: We're almost totally black on ammo!

BOSWORTH: It knocked the wind out of everyone --

soldiers there in Iraq,

and then also everyone at home.

HARDIE: Belinda? BELINDA: What's the matter?

HARDIE: CNN just said there was an ambush in Baghdad.

Four soldiers dead. BELINDA: What?

PAXTON: I think you're always, somewhere deep down,

waiting for that call and hoping that it never comes.

ROY: No one's contacted you? AMBER: No.

ROY: There's been an attack in Iraq.

CALLIES: The person who fights overseas

isn't the only one at war. The whole family goes to war.

AMBER: Roy, what's happening?

ROY: Platoon was ambushed in Sadr City.

4 dead, at least 40 wounded.

♪♪

ALANNE: We are all very mindful of our solemn responsibility

in telling this story,

and we are especially mindful today, on April 4th,

which this year marks the 13th anniversary of Black Sunday

and the battles in Sadr City that we are retelling the world.

WOMAN: I'm so tiny. BOSWORTH: (laughs)

BEAVERS: It's an amazing road to get here.

SOLDIER: Thanks, man. BEAVERS: Thanks so much, man.

SPICER: Today has been more than I could've imagined,

from the moment that we got together this morning,

with the crew and the cast,

and our guys did the moment of silence.

I thought that that was a perfect way to start the day.

RADDATZ: I'd like to read the names of the fallen.

We will observe a moment of silence

at the beginning of the whistle, and a whistle will mark the end.

Thank you all.

BOURQUIN: It was very emotional.

I remember crying numerous times on complete strangers.

But it was a bonding moment, just to be actually here

with Gold Star family members.

And the people whose children died

coming up to try to save me,

really put a new perspective on things,

because it's been something I've been avoiding for a long time.

It's, you know, how do you walk up to somebody and say,

"Hey, you know, I'm alive because your son died."

You know, and then show them pictures of your kids.

It was a rough day, but I'm glad it happened,

because a lot of healing for me individually

just happened that day, even though it took a lot of time,

but it was a good experience.

You see the black flags?

I didn't even realize they just had those until now.

They must've just put those up. It looks spot-on, doesn't it?

A lot of other veterans are able to go back

to their battlefields, whereas we won't.

I don't think we'll do it anytime in this lifetime.

AGUERO: This little thing on the wall over here gets me,

because I remember that spot.

And they did a pretty good job of reproducing it --

the writing over here on the side.

BOURQUIN: Now we get this opportunity, while we're young,

to still be able to go through and see it, feel it,

touch it, kick the dirt, let it sting our eyes.

The only thing that's not here is the smell right now.

ALANNE: It's been an incredibly massive operation

here in Fort Hood.

BOURQUIN: These are the two houses, right here.

RADDATZ: The scope of this set is just incredible.

REED: We're standing at the end of an 800-foot-long road,

so we've constructed 1,500 feet worth of Sadr City

in various interpretations.

ALANNE: There's over a hundred buildings

that we have constructed to re-create Sadr City.

This is more than three football fields long.

It is the largest set working in North America today.

REED: I have a photograph of you standing right here.

The photograph is you like this.

You took your helmet off,

and you got in a lot of trouble for taking your helmet off.

SPICER: Martha Raddatz is the news correspondent

that had spent time with us over in Iraq.

She really saw the experience that we had had

was something significant, and she just kept coming back

throughout our year that we were there.

RADDATZ: When I was writing the book,

I never imagined that someday I would see this re-created.

How are you?

I'd heard the story about this battle,

and reporters were all so caught up

in covering policy or covering where were the WMDs,

that we'd forgotten that there was a war going on.

It's good to see you. SPICER: How are you?

RADDATZ: No one had asked them those questions.

And I think, for them and for their spouses,

just talking about that was healthy and helpful.

WILD: There was a guy about a hundred yards that way.

That's the first guy I can clearly remember engaging,

once we were on the rooftop.

ALANNE: When Mike Medavoy first sent me the book,

I just fell in love with it.

It wasn't just a story about what it's like

to really go to war for the first time,

for the American soldier,

but also for the American military family.

♪♪

BELLAMY: She loves the troops,

and it's proven in everything she does.

RADDATZ: I felt like this civilian bridge to the military.

I could talk to the spouses

in ways that their husbands sometimes didn't talk to them.

ALANNE: I feel like she rescued all these soldiers,

all these families, from being lost to history,

and that that is the work that we are carrying forward here.

ABRAHAM: Background! CREW MAN: Background.

RADDATZ: The soldiers in the story are the everyday guys.

SMITH: You stay safe out there, Tomas.

TOMAS: I will.

RADDATZ: They're as close to you and me as anybody can be.

Most of them never imagined they would be in combat.

ALANNE: None of them had ever fired a weapon at an enemy

or had been fired on by the enemy.

I think that just made the heroism and bravery

of that day all the more extraordinary.

The scope of the story is really enormous.

The structure that I proposed was very ambitious,

where we would have eight main characters

who we follow through the entire event,

almost in real time.

And each hour would mark one of the big defining moments

in this battle.

It represented this fascinating puzzle to put together.

Well, who do you choose?

What hour belongs to which character?

♪♪

We are very honored to be doing this project

with the support and assistance of the United States Army

and Department of Defense,

who have been such amazing partners to us

from the beginning.

HOMAYOUN: Mikko's dedication to this project is infinite.

QUINLAN: He has taken years to reach out the families,

the soldiers, to get every detail right.

SMITH: We kept in contact through e-mails,

and he's constantly sending me pictures.

He has been wonderful through the whole thing.

ALANNE: I just wanted to introduce you to Robert.

SMITH: Oh. (chuckles)

ALANNE: Robert? ROBERT: Oh.

ROBERT: Excuse me.

♪♪

SMITH: It's almost like closure.

It's a different kind of closure.

That was his gift to us.

RADDATZ: He loves these guys. He loves them like I do.

He loves these families. He knows them like I do.

SALOMON: Let's go, one. ABRAHAM: So, guys,

let the sporadic shooting be really sporadic.

HOMAYOUN: The two directors that we're working with

are Phil Abraham and Mikael Salomon.

ABRAHAM: And action!

ANDERSON: One of the things that we knew about Phil Abraham

from the work on "Mad Men" and "The Sopranos"

is that he was very much interested

in the journey of the character, and was able to focus on that

as being a guiding storytelling principle.

AGUERO: I'm almost nearing black.

I'm not sure how long we have now. Over.

VOLESKY: We're coming, Red One. We're gonna get you out. Over.

ALANNE: I wanted someone who would really get to the heart

of who these characters were,

and Phil has done a remarkable job with that.

CREW MAN: (speaking indistinctly)

ABRAHAM: Yeah, that's great. Here we go.

CREW MAN: Action, vehicles. (explosion)

ALANNE: Mikael did "Band of Brothers,"

and it's been wonderful being able to entrust him

to realizing all these battles

in ways that feel new every time.

♪♪

ANDERSON: We realized

the marrying of the two types of storytellers

was going to give us an emotional journey

that was a character journey, but also could bring us

into what the experience of war was like.

(machine-gun fire)

VOLESKY: At all times, be aware.

This is a skilled and highly prepared enemy

who has coordinated a citywide attack.

♪♪

RADDATZ: What struck me about this story was

that these wives back home had no idea that their husbands

were in the middle of a terrible, terrible battle.

Their lives were just going on

until that moment when they knew,

and their lives changed.

LeAnn: A platoon has been attacked.

RITTER: The wives all rely on each other.

LUPITA: Please get them home to us.

RITTER: And they also turn to the Readiness Group,

which helps them cope with the very specific stresses

that having a husband deployed create.

LeAnn: Always remember that you're not alone.

Family Readiness is family.

CALLIES: Having served in the Army gives LeAnn Volesky

a perspective that a lot of the other wives don't.

She knows what it's like to stand in shoes

like her husband's.

LeAnn: The Lord never gives us more than we can handle.

GINA: I wish I had your faith.

BOSWORTH: Self-doubt is something that we all face.

Gina Denomy had multiple facets relating to that.

One of them was being a new mom, but then also participating

in the care groups the way that she did.

That was very new for her.

Gina had to learn to become a leader in that way.

GINA: I promise, as soon as we're able,

we will contact you, and, hopefully, with good news.

BOSWORTH: So, she's an extraordinary woman.

I feel very, very honored to play her.

RADDATZ: Look at you, holding hands.

So Shane, how -- AMBER: We've been married

almost 19 years, so, yeah. RADDATZ: Shane, how...

PAXTON: Playing a real person who went through this,

it's an extreme responsibility and it's not one I take lightly.

The best I can do is honor her story

and play the situations that have been written

as truthfully as possible. AMBER: I love you.

ALANNE: Alpha Company in this story

was mostly African-American and Hispanic soldiers.

I wanted to make sure that the diversity

of our armed forces was accurately represented.

BUTLER: Hang in there, Cason.

ALANNE: We looked at who had interesting stories

that could speak to the unit as a whole.

ARSIAGA: I got a bad feeling, man.

GARZA: Just stay close. You'll be all right, man.

ALANNE: And I just thought there was something so beautiful

about the friendship between Robert Arsiaga and Israel Garza,

who are just these ordinary guys.

GARZA: I never had a brother before you.

RADDATZ: I was surprised

how close they came to those characters.

They really did capture who those people are.

CREW MAN: Michael? VOLESKY: Hi.

KELLY: General, how are you? VOLESKY: Hey.

It's great to see you. How are you?

KELLY: What a pleasure.

VOLESKY: No, the pleasure is mine!

CLARK: Michael Kelly is a brilliant actor.

and he plays Lieutenant Gary Volesky,

our commander in the field.

KELLY: I met General Volesky.

(chuckling) It was, I mean,

probably one of the coolest moments I've had in my life.

KELLY: I understood fully, for the first time,

how every one of his men that I've talked to

said they'd follow him into hell.

I got it. QUINLAN: I'm Robert Arsiaga.

VOLESKY: How are you? DIAZ: Jorge Diaz.

I'm playing Garza.

ALANNE: Volesky, he had such a love and warmth toward his men.

CREW MAN: Jeremy Sisto. SISTO: It's an honor, sir.

SISTO: Thank you. VOLESKY: Okay.

ALANNE: And so I wanted to find an actor

who could embody flawlessly those two qualities.

And Michael is just extraordinary.

VOLESKY: Private Randazzo.

That Crusader loader who was killed?

You find out his first name and where he was from.

RANDAZZO: Yes, sir.

KELLY: I wanted to do the best job I could do,

because it's a man that I now idolize in life.

AGUERO: You guys want to make it back to base

without any more casualties, huh?

Then we have to work together.

CLARK: E.J. Bonilla plays Lieutenant Shane Aguero,

who showed uncommon valor in leading his guys.

And even when all hope was lost, he kept hope alive.

AGUERO: The number of places

that building can come under fire from,

in retrospect, is a lot more than this can.

The problem was, it's also a lot harder

to get here for them to find us.

BONILLA: He is an unassuming hero.

But when it comes to it, he's the guy

you want by your side when you're at war.

DENOMY: We will never forget our brothers

and what they did for us,

and there will be time to grieve.

CLARK: Jason Ritter plays Captain Denomy

as this incredible character

who, despite being wounded multiple times,

went back out in the field to rescue these guys

and led his troops into the eye of the storm.

(machine-gun fire, explosion)

SISTO: Yo, there he is. Hey!

How are you?

ROBERT: Pretty good, pretty good.

ALANNE: Robert Miltenberger, to me, is one of the most

fascinating characters in this story.

He's deeply embittered by the fact

that he's been stop-loss, and on top of that,

then has the certainty that he's going to die.

SISTO: It's pretty impressive,

the fact that you were able to carry out in that.

And the calm in the midst of all that, was, uh...

ROBERT: I probably surprised, me, too.

I was never scared. SISTO: I know.

That's what it sounded like. ROBERT: (laughs)

ROBERT: I was never scared.

I guess I was ready. SISTO: Yeah?

ROBERT: If it was my time, I was ready.

SISTO: Robert actually is, in some ways,

healthier than some other soldiers

that weren't consciously aware of the sadness,

the tragedy of it all.

ROBERT: There's no glory out there, no heroes.

It's just death.

(indistinct shouting)

AL-LANI: (speaking Arabic)

HOMAYOUN: I'm playing Jassim Al-Lani.

I'm the midpoint between the Iraqis and the Americans.

ESSAM: (speaking Arabic)

HOMAYOUN: I am constantly having

to choose where my allegiances lie.

AGUERO: Jassim? BOURQUIN: Sir?

AGUERO: Take it.

BOURQUIN: Sir, you cannot give him a weapon.

HOMAYOUN: Some of the soldiers distrust my character

because their lives are at stake and they don't know me.

BOURQUIN: This was a well-planned ambush.

Somebody tipped the enemy off to our movements.

BEAVERS: I'm playing Sergeant Eric Bourquin.

He's a squad leader.

He kind of represents the violence of action.

He's the bulldozer, a guy you don't want to mess with.

WILD: We're all gonna die.

(machine-gun fire)

BOURQUIN: Crying doesn't help.

♪♪

CLARK: Our first choices said yes on this show for the cast,

and nowhere was that more important

than in the home front.

ABRAHAM: And action!

The way we shot the show,

we did all the home-front work up front.

So, literally, 9, 10 days after shooting began,

we never saw our ladies again, ever.

GINA: You know, before he left, Troy said, in ancient times,

wives went to war with their husbands.

I guess we still do that, in a way.

BOSWORTH: Everyone who's been a part of this

has taken it on like a personal mission

to shine a light on this event,

and to honor it in the best way that we can.

(camera shutter clicking)

PHOTOGRAPHER: You two together, that's good.

BEAVERS: We would bleed to do right by them.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Cool. BEAVERS: And to get to meet

the real heroes that we're portraying

and have them bring us in for a hug

and say, "Hey man, we think you're gonna do a great job.

We trust you, and you have our blessing,"

I feel so much responsibility, and I also feel

so much privilege. KELLY: Michael.

What's your name? JOHN: John.

KELLY: John. I owe it to them

to do this the best that I can, because the country should know.

QUINLAN: We've been incredibly fortunate on this project

to actually meet and be counseled by

the soldiers who were part of this battle.

ALANNE: We wanted our actors to go through a boot camp

not only to learn to move properly

and act properly as soldiers, but also for

the bonding experience that that would provide.

BAUMGARTEN: We put together a weeklong boot camp

that not only incorporated the basic infantry skills --

weapons handling, tactics, things like that --

but also to understand the weight and the gravity

of what the actors were representing.

ALANNE: Mike Baumgarten and Jerry Goodenmen,

who were our chief technical advisers,

led the boot camp with two real-life veterans

of this battle, Eric Bourquin and Aaron Fowler.

BAUMGARTEN: Let's go. HOMAYOUN: We would run drills

of clearing houses, patrolling streets...

(machine-gun fire)

...and fail over and over.

BEAVERS: They don't compromise, so we recognize pretty quickly

that we're gonna get it right, period.

We're gonna go the route that we went,

entering the building last time,

and we're just gonna, instead, we're gonna peel

and get to the edge of that building,

peel into the staircase like that.

Does that make sense? CREW MAN: Let's do it.

KELLY: Slow and steady. Communicate.

BOURQUIN: The actors were asking about the proper way

to hold the weapons, how to shoot, move, and communicate.

AGUERO: I approve of this training.

He has finger where it's supposed to be at.

BOURQUIN: Look how well all these guys are patrolling.

They're watching the corners, and they're checking doors.

They're passing it off. AGUERO: Yeah.

It looks good. It looks good. BAUMGARTEN: All the actors,

you want to get as much correct as possible.

They could easily remove us from the process

and just do what they want, but they didn't.

They care about the story.

CREW MAN: Fire. Hold. Fire. Hold.

DENMAN: We were holding them to a standard,

making them do 20 good reps

before we were good for them to move on...

QUINLAN: Cut! Ooh, I think that was a tie, no?

-DENMAN: ...just so that, when they get out here

and there's cameras in their face,

and they're tired, they'll remember.

BEAVERS: My team, let's all do a buddy system.

Take your mag out, pull your bolt back,

take a look if there's no brass, yeah?

RITTER: It was kind of amazing because, at a certain point,

we could notice what each other were doing

and sort of police each other a little bit

and say, "Get your elbow down," or "You got to keep your barrel

not aimed at your fellow soldier."

BEAVERS: All right. Here we go, closing doors.

On me. You ready? QUINLAN: Yeah, ready!

Come on back.

BEAVERS: We were thrown into scenarios

that none of us felt comfortable with.

Right there!

But, you know, Mike and Jericho who kept telling us,

"Just do your best." Let's go.

QUINLAN: Mike kept saying,

"You're given principles to live by,

and you must make the best of a bad situation at all times."

We all got each other's backs.

KELLY: All you want to do is get their praise,

because these are guys who really lived it.

Go!

♪♪

So we all really busted our ass to do it.

SISTO: For me, this is the first time

where I kind of really felt like --

like we were really like brothers and...

KELLY: Yeah. Yeah. SISTO: And as an actor,

that's what I'm looking for, about this thing.

So thank you for making that all happen.

KELLY: Thank you, Mike. SISTO: Thanks, Mike.

(cheers and applause)

QUINLAN: Oh, this is so rad!

FISHER: The boot camp really did bring everybody together

in a really wonderful way.

The bond on this set is something special.

ALANNE: It's been amazing having the Army as our adviser,

because I always wanted this to be as authentic as possible.

I want to thank everyone here in Fort Hood.

We have been welcomed here with such love and care.

It's been amazing,

and we are eternally grateful for that.

RIDDELL: So, Wild, if we don't make it back,

who do you think

should play us in the movie version?

WILD: Think I'd like Tom Cruise. RIDDELL: Nah, he's too tall.

WILD: Screw you, man.

♪♪

SALOMON: Thank you, everybody. Positions, please.

ALANNE: We were gonna get this story told,

no matter how long it took.

We initially developed it as a three-hour feature.

SALOMON: Here we go! ALANNE: It's been

so extraordinary now to be able to bring

an even more fully realized version of this,

expanding it to eight hours,

together with National Geographic.

♪♪

ANDERSON: These were the guys

that we wanted to take this journey with.

They understood the importance of the material

and why we had been sticking with it for so long.

ALANNE: They have been such amazing partners.

From the very beginning, they were attracted

to the ambition and complexity of the project.

SALOMON: Action! (machine-gun fire)

BONILLA: National Geographic is famous for telling the truth.

I love that they're making honest, real,

hard-hitting television.

This is the closest we can get without being there ourselves.

♪♪

BOURQUIN: They ambushed us to draw out the rescues.

Now they're gonna come for us for real.

ALANNE: When you watch it, you literally feel

that you are trapped in the situation with our characters.

AGUERO: We got to move! RADDATZ: You will feel

exactly what those soldiers and what those families felt.

♪♪

KELLY: The events of April 4, 2004,

happened so quickly and instinctively

that their true impact could only be revealed in hindsight.

What has emerged, looking back all these years later,

is a portrait not just of courage and sacrifice,

but one of family... GARZA: You doing all right?

KELLY: ...not just at home and on the front lines,

but now on both sides of the camera, as well.

SALOMON: Action.

KELLY: It is a bond that serves as a fitting tribute

to the memory of those who were lost.

-- Captions by VITAC --

The Description of First Look: The Long Road Home | The Long Road Home