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The Hurt Locker Analysis Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1411 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The Hurt Locker is a movie written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. It displays combat at its best in Iraq. The movie reflects on the celebrated life of a soldier and is entitled, “war is a drug.” The soldier vividly displays war as a drug that needs to be taken by all soldiers at all times of their lives for their survival. The writer depicts this through the display of the paralyzing life of a soldier in war. She emphasizes this through the main character whose daring nature puts him at loggerheads with his colleagues (Eldridge and Sanborn) (Olsen, 2008).This paper analyze critically, the Hurt Locker with a specific focus on conflicts, symbols as well as irony presented in the movie.

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Various conflicts are displayed in the movie, first, when James is hired to replace the previous team leader, Sergeant Thompson. With his experience in war, he conflicts with the rest of the soldiers owing to his aggressive nature and failure to follow protocol. The soldiers find James’ ways reckless and disturbing but his spontaneity is seen to assist them soldier on to the end. Further James conflicts with Sanborn while trying to pursue the suspects of a petrol oil tanker that had exploded. Sanborn argues that the work should be left to the three platoons in the area. James however wins him over (Ressner, 2008). Again, an external conflict is encountered while driving back to their camp, the three soldiers, Eldridge, Sanborn and James come into conflict with five mercenaries who engage them in battle but they manage to kill after a long struggle. In another scene, the James’ teams set out to plant an explosion in a desert and they leave. James returns to the site, where the explosives are already rigged to detonate, to pick up his gloves, which he had forgotten. Sanborn loudly ponders about killing James by deliberately making the explosion explode on him. Eldridge is does not concur with him and is hence unhappy.

The theme most featured in the video is that of soldiers dying for their country in patriotism. This is cleared portrayed in the sacrifices made by leaving their families to fight for their countries. At the end of the movie features James with his little son, he recalls the war and contemplates going back to the battlefield. Later he goes back to the battlefield portraying his addiction to war. Other subthemes include violence and war seen in the encounters of the soldiers dismantling bombs and fighting enemies who attack. The filming of the movie in Iraq explains this theme clearly since it is known as a war country (Nott, 2009).

The director of the movie integrates principally very shaky and obscure scenes in the movie to portray the uncertainty that hits the soldiers in addition to the danger they face. Iraqis are seen peeping through cracks of buildings, fences and on balconies; this isolates the American soldiers (James, Sanborn, and Eldridge) as being in a suspicious territory. This indirectly portrays these people watching from afar, as people who could set up an explosion on the US soldiers. The stereotype surrounding the towel headed terrorist is personified within the hurt locker. It is implied in the sniper scene at the UN building and depicted by the group of men and women pushing the cart after learning of the body bomb. This denotes the Iraqi as untrustworthy (Tobias, 2009).

The American soldiers tend to sympathize with a 12 year old boy, Beckham who displays a flawed character resembling an American teenager. Despite his character, James sympathizes with him and attempts to befriend him. Beckam symbolizes the American culture. Later on Beckam’s body is found with a bomb implanted in his chest. This makes James go in pursuit of the assailants who did the deadly act. The scenes of a body bomb discovered put the Iraqi citizens in bad light through stereotypes (Olsen, 2008). This symbolizes the American foreign policy. As James dislodges the bomb in the boy’s chest this symbolizes America’s efforts to liberate and bring democracy in Iraq, the body bomb being a product of the Iraqis. This also serves the purpose of cleansing the view of American soldiers universally as connecting with the locals to help them. This is depicted clearly by James’ mistaken identity of the body bomb.

The setting greatly influences the featured characters. Arid desert scenes and streets with small tunnel like alleyways with debris allover signify the battlefield. Chaos and disorganization is portrayed by explosions at every instance. The only orderly and peaceful place is the US camp victory .These two conflicting images reflect the US foreign policy of bringing forth order and liberation to the Iraq citizen. Dialogue in the movie depicts stereotypes of various kinds. The US soldiers are seen in engaging in slang talk throughout the radio communications. This portrays the superiority complex of the US soldiers with regard to the foreign policy. This is also a depiction of how the US soldiers carry themselves in the battlefield (Ressner, 2008).

Bigelow, constructs the movie without favoring any side, this puts him in a state of political balance rather than politically driven level. This he does by balancing the preconception of the audience about Iraq and loose truth about the same. The use of camera angles and dialogue instigates suspense and represent the stress intensity by highlighting the suspicions and insecurity of the setting. The scene before the colonel Cambridge’s death where he speaks in a demining tone attempting to dismiss the group of Iraq citizens who leave an explosive device close to him. This scene degrades the intelligence of the Iraqi citizens and instigates in the viewers a terrorist image due to the bombing that results. The figure ‘colonel Cambridge’s’ reflects the inability of the US forces to adequately understand the people of Iraq. Cambridge is the most intelligent man within the soldiers and the only US casualty expressing the notion that intelligence does not equal to superiority in a dangerous environment (Nott, 2009).

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Inhumanity of the war is depicted when Reed, a colonel congratulates James for his brevity. This shows the America’s brutality when he further claims that James will not make it after which follows gunshots. This clearly portrays a balance in the political sides of Iraq and America as this shows the brutality of the American side. The presence of British mercenary dressed in hajji clothing depicts the inability of the Americans to know the difference. This shows the Americans as being human in a variety of ways (Tobias, 2009).

Irony is clearly displayed by the title of the movie whereby the war is depicted as a drug. This is an ironical of the normal situation where human beings like peaceful engagement with each other. At the end of the movie, James is seen as an addict of war. He misses life in war and finally goes back to war, depicting an irony (Olsen, 2008).

In sum, the hurt locker depicts the title ‘war is a drug. This is shown in its main character, James whose addiction to war leads him to going back to war each time. This title is ironical since in normal situations, a human being may never crave for war. Various conflicts are displayed especially concerning James’ spontaneous behavior. At some instance, Sanborn reflects accidentally killing James. The colleagues also fall into conflict with a group of Arab mercenaries but they emerge victorious after numerous confrontation. The movie is symbolic in most instances, first the setting of the movie is in a desert with scenes depicting disorganization and chaos with a touch of Iraq. The only orderly and organized place is the victory camp of the US reflecting the efforts of the united states of liberating Iraq. Their friendliness to the 12-year-old boy shows the effort of the Americans at interacting with the Iraq to solve their indifference. American soldiers are depicted as having a superiority complex in their dialogue with each other and in their belittling of the hajji soldiers. There is however a balance of political sides where the director portrays the Americans brutality in addition to showing the ruthlessness of the Iraq people. This way he wins in his depiction of lack of favoritism. In totality this movie portrays the title war is a drug.


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