The Hurt Locker won 82nd Academy Awards for best picture held on 7th March and through this achievement, Kathryn Begelow wrote her name as the first woman film director winning the Oscar. This is her eighth film after K19: The widow maker released in 2002 that also brought her critic’s recognition for her brilliance in selecting the theme, the characters and the way of direction. This year with the film the Hurt Locker she expressed her strong presence in the film arena again. The Hurt locker is a war movie. The story is set on Iraq. However, perhaps it’s not like the other Hollywood war films showing the heroism of the Americans in the war field in the midst of insurgents and terrorists. But it couldn’t avoid the influence of Hollywood completely and the film is criticized by none but the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan War.
Mark Boal is the writer of the film who was embedded as a freelance journalist with US Army in Iraq in 2004 and based on his gained experience, he wrote the story. Kathryn was familiar with Mark and both the two planned to produce a film since then. The story of the hurt locker is also set on 2004 but the thing that makes it distinctive from the other war movies, especially from the other Iraq and Afghanistan war movies is that the story is about the activities and uncertainties of a military bomb squad known as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). Perhaps it’s the only film that deals with bomb squads in war deployed areas.
James Renner is the protagonist here who is the leader of a bomb squad consisting of three members. The two others are Sergeant Sanborn and specialist Eldridge whose responsibility is to communicate with radio and cover with rifle respectively. Disarming bombs are not easy since a single mistake can cause hundreds of deaths. It’s not easy detecting the detonator hiding in a big car, nor a civilian containing a hidden bomb. James is replaced with Sergeant Thompson who was killed by a bomb blast while disarming. But James is experienced, he worked in Afghanistan too, he is somewhat reckless. His method of disarming bombs makes the members anxious, he doesn’t answer to the radio while working, and he takes risk very easily.
During a raid in a warehouse, James found a dead body of a teenage boy, aged 13-14 who has been surgically implanted a bomb in his belly. According to James, it was the boy Beckham who sells DVDs to the US soldiers and played soccer with him. James became emotional; he tried to find the killers forcing another civilian finding Beckham’s house but failed. Later, James with his team members pursued two insurgents responsible for a recent explosion. In this mission, Eldridge got shot in his leg but James and Sanborn were successful to kill the insurgents.
James joined the team 38 days before the leave. In a mission of disarming the unexploded time-bomb strapped to an Iraqi civilian, James failed and this makes Sanborn emotional to confess that he is not ready to die now and he wishes to have a son.
The Hurt locker is a low budget indie film. Indie films, short for independent films, are financed by a single firm or person, Kathryn financed the movie. This low budget didn’t hinder achieving its success rather it proves again that big budget movies are not always successful by keeping Avatar behind. The hurt locker is a successful movie, no doubt, but perhaps not successful in earning general moviegoer’s recognition. It’s the second most positively reviewed movie in 2009 and almost all critics praised highly. However, the veterans who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq didn’t go with them. It’s another war movie like Platoon, Apocalypse Now with a newer dimension. “It is disrespectful”, said Rieckhoff, the director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). His points are important revealing that the story lacks less research. Although the movie tried to show the psychological situation of the soldiers working in Iraq, it failed to portray accurately. It’s another Hollywood version of the war.
The writer Mark Boal worked hard writing and combining information to make a good story but he failed to identify the right uniform although he was working there in 2004. This is a simple mistake but the team of three did everything – raiding warehouses, shooting the insurgents with sniper, pursuing the insurgents as well as disarming the bombs. Thus, James became nothing but a war junky, sniper, commando hero who relied on no one. Less than one percent of the total population is working in Iraq and the other 99 percent population are dependent on the movies to get the real picture. If it is the Hollywood version of the Iraq war, like any other ‘American-Heroism-Hollywood’ movies, then who would reveal the real picture?
Question may arise that why the movie is selected for Oscar? Its Imdb rating is only 7.1 containing 65 thousand votes of the viewers. US government has been facing fierce protest against the aggression on Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of ‘war against terrorism’. It can be like that awarding a movie on Iraq war will keep the demonstrators quiet for some time. But we don’t want to think like that. We believe the film connoisseurs, like the artists and writers around the world, are also against all types of invasion in any corner of the world. This movie is nothing but a major weapon to hit the decision makers who are unable to understand the feelings of the soldiers who are in the battle field.
James returned home, to his wife and little child in the leave. But it was not his place; he could not love his little baby, or his pretty wife. He confessed to his little child that he was in love with war, so he returned Iraq again in a 365-day mission as an EOD team member with Delta group. The film began with a quotation adapted from the best seller book ‘War is a Force that gives us Meaning’ saying, “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for WAR IS A DRUG”, perhaps best suited for the US government who sends the soldiers to the place of ultimate pain, to the hurt locker.