Text: Manolis Kranakis
With the best film eve r made about the war in Iraq, Kathryn Bigelow composes an antiwar anthem while returning to the basic principles of cinema.
Ιt would be easier for one of Hollywood’s bravest – and undervalued – women to make a documentary on the history of a highly trained army bomb squad unit, in central Baghdad. However at the heart of the ‘Hurt Locker’ exists the inevitable drama behind the either fearless or frightened eyes of young soldiers who risk their lives against an unseen enemy. Bigelow’s film is a story that will never run in prime time; based on a true story by journalist Mark Boal who observed the daily life of a disarming unit in Baghdad during the war, while closely living a hideous death game.
Without a trace of sophistication, only precision, persistence in detail and a
deep sense of responsibility for the contradiction of an invasion that remains an open wound in the heart of modern world, Bigelow films the war in simple terms using just the essential resources.
Braced with experience in thought provoking adventure and male psychology (i.e ‘Point Break’) Bigelow, records almost in real time the successive missions of the American army unit; her restless camera capturing every second of the appalling process. Surrendered to the mercy of an irrational fate, both soldiers and civilians become pawns in a game far from peace-loving, vindictive or anything other than plainly inhuman.
Jeremy Renner plays Will the main ‘hero’ of the irrational. He, more than anyone else, embodies the assumption that war can grow into addiction, and at the same time heal the wounds it itself opens, like a strange kind of cure. Following his path to ‘cleansing’, Bigelow doesn’t seem concerned about ‘heroes’ either good and bad. Her film (or maybe her achievement) does not appear to take positions or to explain exactly what is happening in that troubled corner of the earth. What interests her is to dig deep into the human adventure. And so she does, in a compelling way.