Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Review of the Film: The Hurt Locker

My Review of the Film: The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is a very powerful film—in many ways—and I believe it is worthy of the Best Picture Award, which it just received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; for one reason: It's the most relevant film of our (particular) time.

At the outset of our war with Iraq, which is the film's context, I predicted that Americans would have little—if any—concern for our soldiers that would be serving in Iraq. Not that the soldiers' loved ones wouldn't be concerned—this, I think, goes without saying—but that most Americans, who have no vested, personal interest in the war, would not give the war in Iraq a second thought. Iraq is a long, long way from America; and our military is, currently, an all volunteer force.

I was actually surprised when, at first, there was a lot of interest in the war; but, as time has gone by, I think my prediction has been proven correct: most Americans, I think, care very little about our war with Iraq, which is still on-going, and they care very little about the fact that our soldiers are currently serving there. After all, our soldiers are volunteers who are simply doing their jobs, which they have chosen to do. What Americans with this particular (and pathetic) attitude toward the war and our soldiers in Iraq fail to realize is that our soldiers are doing what they are ordered to do and that THAT is their job: to follow orders. And I think it's high time that all Americans realize that the orders our soldiers were given—to invade and occupy Iraq—were wrong. It's our job and it's our responsibility—as U. S. citizens—to insure that our soldiers are not misused and put at risk for no good reason and to call our elected officials to account for their wrong-headed decision to invade and occupy Iraq.

The Hurt Locker is a film about a U. S. Army Explosives Ordinance Disposal (EOD) unit that has been deployed to Iraq, for a one year term service, and whose job it is to defuse Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's), car bombs, and, in one case, a very unwilling human bomb. Not the kind of job for the faint-hearted; nor for me.

Explosive devices (or bombs) are notoriously unpredictable. They often go off when they are not supposed to go off and they sometimes fail to go off when they are supposed to go off. I once witnessed an EOD guy get killed by an explosive device, when I was in the Army, just shortly after his EOD partner had taught me the most important EOD maxim: "There's no such thing as an explosives expert".

I've never forgotten that maxim.

In The Hurt Locker, what struck me—powerfully—more than anything else was the way in which the film generated within me the intense feelings of anxiety and apprehension—for the entire 131 minutes of the film.

The reason for this is that the film deals with a small group of soldiers who are dealing—in incident after incident—with bomb disposal, and, as a viewer of the film, I was constantly on edge—waiting for someone to be killed by an explosion, which I knew was coming.

This, to me, was a most ingenious way for a film-maker to generate, within a film-viewer, the similar—though much greater—feelings of anxiety and apprehension that our soldiers in Iraq (and Afghanistan) feel on a daily basis. (Thank God I only had to endure 131 minutes, and not 365 days!)

The film brought out, well, the daily anxiety and apprehension that all of our soldiers, especially those who are assigned to forward rather than rear areas, experience: the tension brought about by the confusion of trying to fill the role of both soldier and policeman in a foreign country where some of the citizens of that country—who appear to be ordinary civilians—are trying to kill you.

This, I think, was the most important aspect of this film's many aspects: our soldiers in Iraq have no business being there, and it's unfair of us to force them into such a misguided role; a role for which they were never intended.

As I was watching this film, I couldn't help but wish that, somehow, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi—and especially all of those chicken hawks who support the war in Iraq—could be out there, along with these guys, walking the streets of Baghdad; instead of living and working in the quiet security of their homes and offices.

I think every American owes a special debt to our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan to watch this film. (Whether you personally desire to watch it or not is irrelevant to me.) We owe them that—and much, much more besides. See for yourself what they have to endure on a daily basis—the confusion, the tension, the death, the destruction—and feel, for yourself, just a small fraction of the anxiety and apprehension they are feeling.

And please—I'm begging you: Open your eyes, open your minds, and work in any way that you can to bring these soldiers home—NOW—where they belong. Help bring an end to this foolish war.

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