The Hurt Locker

I’ve read a number of posts/ articles/ essays complaining of inaccuracies in the film The Hurt Locker. To my mind each of these completely miss the point of the movie.

I don’t believe this movie has much to do with the Iraq war to be honest. I can see why serving soldiers wouldn’t like it because it’s not looking to capture realism, but rather it portrays the heightened tensions/ emotions/ situations of people on the frontline (or near enough to it).

It takes many liberties in doing so, but to my mind this makes it a better film. It’s less a photograph than a mood/tone-orientated painting, possibly missing much/most factual information, but instead translating the emotion and many moreĀ  (perhaps otherwise indescribable) aspects of the world it is presenting.

Ultimately (as the quote at the start of the movie reveals) it’s about adrenelin addiction rather than “Iraq”. Tension is racked up and diffused continuously. It can all end in a mighty explosion or a disappointing deflation -literally, figuratively, emotionally, physically. It doesn’t matter if the events that bring the protagonist or the viewer to this experience are real-world approximations or flights of imagination. What matters is you share in the more ephemeral/ ’emotional’ aspect so you understand where the protagonist is situated mentally (in his head) rather than physically (as, in this movie, in Iraq).
The Hurt Locker is more a movie about thrill seekers, gamblers and junkies than it is about war in Iraq (or anywhere else). To my mind it’s a great movie, but I can understand how it can be ‘misunderstood’ by people who expect it to be something else.

For a better representation of War in Iraq, Generation Kill is the start and end point.

As this image shows, it’s from David Simon, creator of The Wire -the best TV show ever in the history of TV. Generation Kill is a lot shorter than The Wire and to my sensibilities slightly slower to get into, but a damn fine truthful representation of war from a particular (grunt/marine) aspect. Not that I’m in a position to comment on what that’s like, but for anyone looking for a representation of “war in Iraq” I would steer them here rather than The Hurt Locker.

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