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The Hurt Locker Wins at the Academy Awards

You may remember my review last summer of The Hurt Locker, the film that took it all at the Academy Awards last night. Not only is this the first time a woman has won the coveted award, but I really do believe that her touching, personal perspective of the personal toil on war, was one of the reasons why. War, it appears, is also about the bond between those risking their lives in the fight for whatever is the political point of the moment. And, a woman’s perspective in showing that stole the show.

Congratulations Kathryn.

The following is my review from July. Do go see the movie….

War is a Force that Gives us Meaning is an essay by Chris Hedges from Human Rights Watch, which has the line, “War is a drug.”  The Hurt Locker, the story of three men in Iraq who are part of the special elite section of the military who volunteer for the most dangerous job in Iraq, dismembering bombs, opens with that quote and then takes us on a trip down risk and high rush lane that is riveting.

I think that every American should be required to see this film. Show it on the senate floor. I feel that seeing it is taking a moment to honor our men and women overseas, and to be part of that which they have now branded in their soul. It’s the least, the very, very least we can do.

War is so filled with broken dreams, misunderstood fears by both sides, and personal isolation that evolve when doing something that no one in your life can ever understand, making you distant from them long after you return from Iraq’s inferno. My anit-war point of view makes me see it in a way that says, “See, how could we have done this to another country and to ourselves?” If you are a supporter of the Iraq war, you would view it from the perspective of the hard fight our brave men fight in the name of freedom. Amazing what a point of view brings to a film like this.

The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who is shockingly brilliant at portraying the suffering and gore of war, but more importantly she has womanly touches that make the film all the more poignant. At one point, the tough Sergeant William James, played by the truly gifted Jeremy Renner, takes a moment out of a drawn out, stress-filled battle to quench the insatiable thirst they clearly suffer in the sun and desert. (It also reminded me that I’ve read we often do not have enough bottled water for the troops.) The sun is scorching. He methodically unwraps the straw with his teeth, all the while his blood-stained hands are on his gunsight and the bag of juice. He doesn’t drink it himself, he leans over to his fellow soldier, and puts it to his lips and tells him to drink it. It’s a woman’s moment; something I venture to guess would not have been done by a male director, but it tells the inside story – the story of family within a unit that just might reach further than the blood bonds we all have in our own families.

I couldn’t figure out the title and its correlation to the film. It turns out that if someone inflicts pain on someone else, they are said to be “putting them in the Hurt Locker.” It is a colloquialism, that means to cause someone physical or mental suffering. Another similar phrase is “a world of hurt” meaning that someone is in (or is going to be in) a great deal of physical, mental, or emotional suffering. Well, no need to say more because the film’s name is true to the meaning.

The film is shot in Kuwait, Jordan, and Canada but shows the devastation that must be Iraq now, the war torn buildings, littered streets and distrustful faces around every corner. It makes you think to yourself, “Whatever in God’s name has my country done to this place?”

When we were driving home, Victor said he doesn’t know how he can play golf and go out to dinner with what we have left behind there. I knew exactly what he meant. It’s like the poem, “Stop the clocks, tell the dogs to stop barking; he is dead, he is dead.” How can we all go day to day worried about our health insurance, our dwindling financial prowess, while we have created such a desolate environment for others to call home?

I have to comment on the audience in the film. We are in the Hamptons and the theater was crowded overall. The Hurt Locker’s average viewer age was in the sixties and I only saw one or two people under forty-five in the theater. The rest of the theaters, showing such deep entertainment as The Proposal (ok, I saw it and loved it, yes, but now I’m wearing my deep movie hat) were filled with younger folk. Guess what guys? Avoiding this stuff will not make it go away.

Can I end with a pet peeve of mine? Do you think if we stopped teaching history from a war-to-war perspective, and instead went at it from a sociological perspective, movies like this would be fiction?

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