Posted by trexc42 on:
I know you’re not supposed to judge a movie by its cover but regardless of that age-old tenet, I’ve avoided seeing ‘The Hurt Locker’ because I’m afraid of how it looks from the outside. Despite all of the amazing things I’ve heard about this film, I was sure that it was going to be stressful, emotional, and thought-provoking.
I tend to steer clear of movies with the aforementioned adjectives associated with them. If you were to review my iTunes movie rental receipt, you would find that most of the movies that I watch could be described as mindless and formulaic and yet oh so emotionally gratifying. And I don’t mean emotionally gratifying as in; “I just watched the most beautiful, haunting movie and it really touched the innermost core of my being.” Instead, I prefer to watch the flicks that make me sigh and say, “I just had a really long day and watched that movie because I knew that it wouldn’t force me think critically about my own romantic shortcomings, and instead, I can just sit here and revel in someone else’s completely unrealistic and yet satisfying courtship without holding myself accountable in any way.” This is why I’ve watched Twilight about 25 times in the past 8 months (not that I would ever admit that in a public forum).
Yet, despite my best effort to avoid subjecting myself to Kathryn Bigelow’s most recent film, I found myself walking into the Lobero Theater at 5:55 PM on Monday night, trying to prepare myself for whatever lay ahead. For those of you who have yet to see this film, “The Hurt Locker” follows the members of an Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team on duty in Iraq in 2004. Their incredibly dangerous job involves disarming the multitude of IED’s and roadside bombs that litter the streets of Baghdad. Not only does this film immerse the viewer in the reality of fighting this war, it also brings home the tremendous psychological impact it has on the soldiers involved. This film reminds you that the trauma of war is not just a side effect that some might suffer after they return from a tour of duty, but rather it’s something that is thrown in a soldier’s face on every single day of their job.
I’ve heard this movie described as an “edge-of-your-seat,” “spellbinding,” “adrenaline-rush;” a description which I completely agree with. In terms of my own personal experience watching this film, at one point I think I had fallen into the center aisle with my knees drawn to my chest, fist shoved into my mouth, and tears streaming down my face. This might be somewhat of an exaggeration, but, true or not, the impact of this film is visceral and immediate.
After the film ended, Kathryn Bigelow received her award for Outstanding Director of the Year. Roger Durling (SBIFF Executive Director) mentioned during his introduction that “defining Bigelow as a female director is irrelevant.” Oh, that’s great! I love when a woman is so good at something that she suddenly becomes androgynous (hmmph). Kathryn came across to me as being shy, modest and obviously very talented. She describes her film as “a tough little war film about an extremely unpopular war” and when Durling asked why she decided to make this film she remarked that it was “a personal response to a conflict that [she] felt deplorable.”
The film is "fictional,” of course, but by no means is it apolitical. While it does not try to force a certain agenda on the viewer, the fact that it is about an ongoing and controversial situation, makes it seem political by its very nature. Bigelow wants it to be taken as an “opportunity [for viewers] to get a glimpse of what’s going on”. Regardless of your own beliefs and politics, this film will likely serve its intended purpose and bring the very real, nonfictional current situation in Iraq to the forefront of your mind.
If you haven’t seen this amazing film already, I really hope you have the chance to do so in the near future. As for me, I feel that I’ve fulfilled my biannual duty of stepping out of my emotional comfort zone. I think I’ll go buy a scoop (please read: pint) of coffee-chip from McConnell’s and watch Step-Up 2: The Streets (2008).