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.
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.