Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Hurt Locker ( 2008 ) : "adrenalin fix"
This quote opens the film.
Has your heart ever pounded with fear?
This is a film about war in general and about the Iraq invasion in particular. The movie takes no stand on the rights and wrongs but examines the daily realities of the urban battlefield up close from the POV of combatants on either side of the fence, and the populace-women, children, elderly- sucked into hell. Faces are different but the anguish has a similar stamp. War itself is the real adversary.
A film directed by a woman, one must admire this merciless, unblinking, unsentimental, clinical portrayal.
If you want to know what's going on over there, this is the right film.
More than anything else this is a portrayal of one individual, Sergeant William James. He is a newly joined expert in defusing bombs ( IEDs ). This involves a daily and encounter with death as he locates these bombs cleverly concealed on roads, in vehicles, at times on human bodies, dead or alive. He has a record of having survived more than eight hundred such defusion sorties. He is a specialist, an ace at his work. He even retains souvenirs from many of these excursions. He loves his job and he loves his own narrow specialisation. He doesn't follow rules and safety regulations and does things his own way, for which he is both admired and disliked.
It's about those hundred yards between you and that bomb buried in the ground with those wires poking out leading to the detonating device, which could be an improvised electrical or electronic gadget or even a mobile phone. There may be eyes watching from any of those layers of windows on either side of the street, waiting to press that button which causes the earth to open it's belly in a murderous volcano mid-street. The specialist in his space-suit like protective garb takes those hundred steps in a kind of moon-walk, heart throbbing and sweat pouring. Men in war learn to master fear and in any case there is no way backwards so forward we must, heart pounding, pounding because death, that primordial terror, alike for man and beast , is but at a quarter of an inch. This movie is about those hundred yards and the minutes after.
This is his daily routine and he has been done it eight hundred and odd times. The next could be the last, as happened to his predecessor at the opening of the film. This is the one thing he lives for, his drug. Indeed, war has been a potent drug and history will bear us out. Remember the film about Patton, the General who waged campaigns in Africa and Europe ( incidentally the topmost ever rated by the critic James Berardinelli )? Says Patton, " God, I love war. I swear I goddam love it." But Hurt Locker is at the micro-level, at the point when, I repeat, the heart pounds like a drum, and the adrenalin gushes.
"You got my f*g legs blown off for the sake of your f*g adrenalin fix" says his comrade.
Adrenalin is not the only fix. It is a juice which flows when the environment pushes us. What was it that propelled the likes of Gandhi and MLK or even Tolstoi ? There's were juices that flowed from within, without any prompting from without, which likewise sought out risk and danger. Adrenalin is one of the many chemicals common to man and beast. What is peculiar to man must be something different, perhaps somethings less discovered or explored.
Roger Ebert's review
Iraq Occupation ( Wiki )
Wiki article on this film
*direction:Kathryn Bigelow; 125 minutes*