Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker / The Hurt Locker / Démineurs [the title on the print viewed]. USA © 2008 Hurt Locker, LLC. Released in Italy in 2008, in the U.S.A. in 2009. Voltage Pictures presents in association with Grosvenor Park Media, LP and F.C.E.F.S.A. a Voltage Pictures / First Light / Kingsgate Films Production. EX: Tony Mark. P: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro. D: Kathryn Bigelow. SC: Mark Boal. DP: Barry Ackroyd - shot with four Super 16 mm cameras and HDCAM SR (high speed shots) - digital intermediate 2k: Company 3. PD: Karl Júliusson. Visual effects: Company 3, Encore VFX. FX: Richard Stutsman. Cost: George Little, Vicki Mulholland. Makeup, hair: Daniel Parker. M: Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders. S: Paul N.J. Ottosson. ED: Bob Murawski, Chris Innis. LOC: Amman (Jordan), Vancouver (Canada). Cast: Jeremy Renner (Staff Sergeant William James), Anthony Mackie (Sergeant J.T. Sanborn), Brian Geraghty (Specialist Owen Eldridge), Christian Camargo (Colonel John Cambridge), Duhail Al-Dabbach (Black Suit Man), Christopher Sayegh (Beckham), Evangeline Lilly (Connie James), Ralph Fiennes (Contractor Team Leader), David Morse (Colonel Reed), Guy Pearce (Sergeant Matt Thompson). 134 min. A 35 mm Nordisk Finland release print (with the original on-print title, intertitles, and credits in French only) with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri / Saliven Gustavsson. Viewed at Cinema Orion (A Tribute to Kathryn Bigelow / The Best of the Decade), Helsinki 23 Dec 2010

"In a hurt locker" means "in trouble". The expression dates back to the Vietnam War.

"The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug" (Chris Hedges) (motto).

Three men (Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty) of the United States Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team (EOD) risk their lives in 2004 in Iraq defusing bombs, including bomb-wired cars and corpses, roadside bombs, and live human martyrs.

"The film was shot in Jordan within miles of the Iraqi border, because Bigelow wanted to bring greater authenticity to the film. This benefited filming by supplying many Iraqi refugees for extras and the unmistakable heat of the Middle East." (The English Wikipedia)

An intensive war film seen from the viewpoint of soldiers who confront danger and try to prevent even more massive devastation. Wearing bombsuits, they attempt to defuse bombs. The mission is often impossible.

The most famous actors play characters who die suddenly. The leading characters are played by a little less known actors.

The film's sympathy is with the soldiers. We can also sense the distance between the Iraqi people and the American soldiers.

This autumn I have been reading Samuel Fuller's memoirs. Fuller emphasizes the presence of children in circumstances of war. Bigelow has the same perception. A poignant character is the Iraqi boy, the pirate dvd seller called "Beckham". The Americans seem to miss the opportunity to turn the Iraqi into friends.

There is a general feeling of disorientation. The soldiers seem a little more nervous than I'd find realistic. Also I believe soldiers seeking "adrenaline highs" in the battlefield would in reality be fired. The Hurt Locker seems to mix realism with action fantasy.

In the visual execution there is a lot of handheld footage, zoom pumping and fast editing. The visual quality of the cinematography seems to aspire to a semblance of newsreel imagery. I think it's great but a little too much of the good thing for 134 minutes.

I have been intrigued by Kathryn Bigelow ever since I heard Paul Schrader pitching her in Sodankylä in 1988. She has never made an indifferent movie, and her Academy Award is richly deserved.

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