“...as stunningly eloquent for its silences and empty spaces as for anything said, leaving us to contemplate the long term cost of war.”

Ian Christie -  critic and film historian

BFI Sight & Sound International Film Magazine: January 2013

Beautifully and evocatively shot, serenely capturing the feel of small town Texas, with scenes and interviews from the original film interspersed throughout, we journey into the hearts and souls of these once young and idealistic Americans, as they poignantly search to find meaning and understanding to lives which only those who have lived through war can truly fathom.”

– Sandy Wolf  CIFF 2013

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

New York

“...a deeply meaningful dialogue across time.”

“...important, groundbreaking work...”

“...The film's eloquence comes from its ability to say just as much with its cinematography as it does with words. WE WENT TO WAR is a poignant and intimate look at the brutal mental consequences of war.”


“This sad, unhurried film is like a short story by Larry McMurtry.”


"We Went to War is a poetic, affecting film underscored with a quiet indignation at the way the three ex soldiers have been failed by the country they fought for."


“(an)..artful, melancholic film...Just as (Grigsby’s) subjects have so much space to think and too little way of processing those thoughts, so this film allows us space for silence, observation and reflection.”


“If you want to watch a resonant, intelligent, ambitious and beautiful piece of documentary filmmaking then you won’t do much better than We Went to War.”


“...a fitting epitaph for a very fine British documentarist.”

★★★★ THE ARTSDESK.COM “The quieter the film's voices ring out, the more haunting their insight seems.”


“Co-authored with creative producer Rebekah Tolley, Grigsby has crowned his noble career...”

We Went to War ponders the coldness of combat, but perhaps more fundamentally, challenges why we tolerate it.”

★★★★ SCREENGEEK  “What the documentary does very well is not interfere with the natural flow of storytelling, it doesn't rely on an overly sympathetic or sycophantic narrator or a pushy interviewer, it just gives these brave men the platform to speak from their hearts.”

★★★★★ PI MEDIA

“The overall effect of watching We Went to War is that of a profound re-sensitisation; it brings the serious consequences of thoughtless ferocity to the forefront, stamping the price of warfare onto your brain like a violent hangover.  In an age where you can download Assassins’ Creed to your smart phone within minutes, this makes for profound and essential viewing.”


“...what it has to say is staggeringly important.” "ESSENTIAL"


“...a beautiful piece of documentary making which lingers in the mind and dispels any myths about
the notion of glory.”

"Grigsby uses cinematography that is akin to visual poetry, keeping each frame quiet and yet dense with meaning and observation comparable to the work of Ron Fricke in the visually stunning films Samsara and Baraka."


“It's impossible to understate the importance of this documentary...” "A MUST SEE!"


10pm, Tuesday 26 March 2013

“Michael Grigsby began directing films as a schoolboy in the 1950s. He went on to make series of films documenting working life, the impacts of the Vietnam War, and life on the economic edges of Thatcher's Britain, amongst many other things. Uncompromising in his insistence on giving his subjects the time and space to tell their stories, our own Matthew Sweet has written about Grigsby's "passionate commitment to the poetry of everyday life". Grigsby died suddenly earlier this month, just as his latest film 'We Went to War’ was released. Matthew is joined by Grigsby's producer and collaborator Rebekah Tolley and the critic Ian Christie.”

"A masterpiece four decades in the making.....We Went To War is a meditation on the very nature of war: not just about Vietnam, it is strikingly relevant to any returning veterans, no matter the conflict. This film is well worth a watch: slow and serene but arrestingly powerful, it is a perfect example of how a film like this should be made."

Documentary Filmmakers Group (DFG)

“Grigsby and his co-director Rebekah Tolley have done a wonderful job establishing the trust that enables both men to provide such an articulate and moving expression of the terrors, guiltanger and confusion wrought by war, and the longevity of its effects.

Social documentaries of this exceptional quality have another quality, beyond their informative interest, their aesthetic and poetic pleasures and their emotional force – and that’s their power to instil in the viewer a sense of sheer privilege at being able to hear and feel the testimonies of the people to whom they give voice.”  more

BFI Sight & Sound International Film Magazine

Film of the Week: We Went to War (May 2013 edition)

This swansong by the late documentary poet Michael Grigsby is a deft and delicate portrait of three Vietnam war veterans.

Michael Grigsby 1936-2013

Patrick Russell


Friday, 15 March 2013

“The late Michael Grigsby was one of the giants of British documentary filmmaking.”

“...an outstanding and immensely moving portrait, examining how the burden of war is passed down through generations, affecting not only the soldiers themselves but also their families and communities for years after the event.”

Gavin Midgley, Take One: Cambridge Picturehouse Review & Official Cambridge Film Festival Publication

“The film conjures a profound sense of space and peace, and contains not a single shot of conflict."

Daily Telegraph

"A compelling look at the lingering devastation of war."

EMPIRE magazine

"Moving, but never manipulative. And beautifully photographed."

Grigsby, alongside his producer and key collaborator Rebekah Tolley, capture the lilting beauty of the spare, sand-blasted Texan landscape with their camera.”

David Jenkins for Little White Lies

"We Went to War is extremely powerful, thanks to its personal interviews and strong and compassionate direction."

View London

"Unlike any documentary I have seen, it's an eloquent and even elegiac film, dealing with the inconvenient truth that the American Dream has no time for casualties..."

The Morning Star

‘American Vietnam war veteran Dennis Bolinger and film producer Rebekah Tolley tell us about a life-changing documentary, "We Went To War".’

First broadcast  Wednesday 17 April 2013


Extraordinary personal stories from around the world with Matthew Bannister, Monday to Thursday....

WE WENT TO WAR by Michael Grigsby and Rebekah Tolley

Producer and co author of WE WENT TO WAR, Rebekah Tolley discusses the journey of making the film with director Michael Grigsby - in the Huffington Post.

April 2013

Michael Rabehl, Programming Director, Cinequest Festival, San Jose, California, contemplates WE WENT TO WAR


WE WENT TO WAR’s co authors, Rebekah Tolley & Michael Grigsby

“To me, a good story is one that entertains and provides the opportunity to share an experience with others, but a GREAT story is one that you can talk about how it made you feel, think and understand more about yourself and others.

With the overwhelming number of films I see each year, it’s very special when a film has lasting emotional effects on me. Michael Grigsby and Rebekah Tolley’s WE WENT TO WAR did just that—which is a true testament to the power of cinema and how an artist’s work can have lasting impact.

I’m not a veteran. I have never been involved with the military in any way. Yet, as I watched the stories of the men depicted in the film, that didn't matter. Although it is the story of veterans whose lives have forever been dramatically changed by their experiences as soldiers who fought in war, it is first and foremost a story about humanity, consequences, loss and about understanding.

It’s a film I will never forget.”


Recorded at the Playhouse Theatre, Derry, Northern Ireland.

English documentary film director Michael Grigsby, who died earlier this year, made a trilogy of films in Northern Ireland. Presenter Matthew Sweet is joined by two film-makers who worked closely with Michael Grigsby, Rebekah Tolley (co creative author of WE WENT TO WAR) and John Furse (creative producer of Living on the Edge (1987), to pay tribute to his work.

Below: Michael Grigsby during the making of REHEARSALS (2005), one of three films he directed in Northern Ireland over a 20 year period.

Michael Grigsby's Film-making Career


“A masterpiece four decades

in the making...”

Michael Grigsby (centre) and crew shooting a scene for WE WENT TO WAR’s prequel,


in early 1970.

Researcher Richard Creasey (left), cameraman David Wood (2nd from right), and camera assistant, Mike Popley (right). The photo was taken by sound recordist, Peter Walker.


UK TV premiere on Film4

April 24 - 00:15am


“...GRIGBSY has crowned his noble career.”


April 24 2014: WE WENT TO WAR hits UK TV on Film4, almost 44 years to the day that its prequel, I WAS A SOLDIER, first aired on ITV for Granada Television, on April 28 1970.