Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Importance of the Hurt Locker in the Upper Echelon of War Films

THE HURT LOCKER will be remembered as one of the most important movies of the 00's.

this is a lofty claim for a film during it largely ignored during it release and starring virtually no one of note (the ralph fiennes appearance was basically a cameo) but this is going to be a landmark film for one major reason: that the war in iraq has finally been accurately portrayed on film and connected with audiences.

before i really get going, the hurt locker is about a bomb defusing unit working in Iraq in the second occupation (this one).

if you look back at movies dealing with terrorism and modern warfare post 9/11, you will see quite a few: in the valley of elah, rendition, stop-loss, grace is gone, the kingdom, and even vantage point. still, none of these movies really resonated as something realistic or relevant and had the critical acclaim to make it a lasting memory. of those, elah was nominated for an oscar but it remained largely ignored and like most of the movies above, it dealt more with the impact of the war at home rather than in the field.

im not in the armed services nor do i know anyone who serves in the army so it does seem pretty naive for me to sit here on my couch and type about the real experiences the film conveys. though in many ways, the actual realism is secondary to having a strong, lasting piece of media detailing this war, one of the most important historical turning point of the US. no reproduction is going to be 100% accurate but in this case, the message is more important.

true to life or not, this is a film that people have slowly latched onto as a gritty and true to life war film. it is not the constant explosions and adventure of the kingdom or the heavy handed armchair leftist touting politics of lions for lambs or rendition. it is a film that says that fighting in iraq is psychologically intense with bursts of incredible fear and imminent death with periods of intense boredom. this isnt a movie about politics, it is about the men on the ground that the politicos are arguing about.

i think that the only other film to capture this aspect of war is jarhead, the immensely underrated sam mendes film made about the first occupation of iraq. for all intents and purposes, a lot of war does seem to be waiting around. even in 'all quiet on the western front,' which i consider to be one of the greatest war movies of all time, there is a line to the extent of 'we wait around we fight and try not to get killed.'

that is war, right? watered down and simple. fight the other side and try not to get killed.

but its so much than that especially when dealing with a polarizing war such as that of iraq. there are so many other sides including the iraqi population. there are endless greys in these conflicts and on top of it, there are those for and against american occupation with the latter being far louder than the former.

in the hurt locker, nothing in the movie cried out to me of propaganda of either side. to me, it was a simple and beautifully done film with a solid message about a relevant topic that will continue to be discussed for many future generations. the hurt locker is a modern day 'all quiet on the western front,' 'full metal jacket,' 'saving private ryan,' 'mash,' or 'patton' and deserves it place as a major talking point about war in the modern era.

as an aside, i want to go back to writing about movies from 50 years ago. think ill switch back to that