Macchars don’t wear sweaters

Hurt Locker

Posted on: November 27, 2009

I saw Hurt Locker a few days back. I hadn’t heard of it before my father mentioned he had downloaded it. Apparently the movie is pretty well known, hailed as one of the best movies on the Iraq war, and an unlikely candidate for the Oscars this year. The movie follows a bomb disposal squad in Iraq, as it goes around its daily business of defusing bombs planted by insurgents.

From a movie point of view, it is immensely watchable, with gripping and tense sequences of the bomb disposal squad defusing lethal bombs. The Iraqi landscape is also beautifully portrayed – sandy, hot and war torn; shells of cars lying here and there on the roads; old buildings with curious Iraqis looking on; american humvees snaking around with modern combat geared American soldiers.

With a movie like this, one of the things i was keenly looking out for was bias in its viewpoint of the Iraqi war. Although the movie has been acclaimed as being completely neutral in its viewpoint, i found that far from the truth. The movie is majorly biased towards the American point of view.

It sometimes seems to me that there is nothing greater than Hollywood movies that gives America such an intense belief in its nobility, sensitivity and morality. The movie is far from neutral. Ekta Kapoor, although exaggeratedly, has rightly discovered the best device of conveying the moral character of  the characters. It is the eyes. The people with pained and soft eyes are good. The people with squinty and cold expressions are evil.

The movie uses the same device. American soldiers are the ones with soft and kind eyes, bewildered by their situation in Iraq, forever wanting to go back home, repulsed by death, scared of violence, attached to children, committed to save innocents, yet duty bound to remain. The insurgents are forever faceless, depicted fleetingly as steely eyes peering into the gun lens, locking down on their target, consumed by their task in a cold concentration, or as curious faces peering from rooftops, curious to see the impact of the deadly bombs planted by them, killing and using bodies of children for their evil and random acts of violence, or sometimes innocent family men.

And the common Iraqis themselves have been depicted similarly. As annoyances talking excitedly in their alien tongue, expressionless, poker faced, obstructing Americans from protecting even their own selves.



4 Responses to "Hurt Locker"

I don’t know what the biases are but from that angle I found myself more sympathetically inclined towards the Iraqis because they are more like us, in looks, in temperament, in language ( we are not born to English, however proficient we might be ), the kinds of shops and buildings they are surrounded by, etc.

What made the movie different was the “adrenalin” addiction, which may be a factor on both sides of the divide, and the common soldiers lot.

In more generality it is a film about the nature of war, and primeval instincts which are common to all animals, including human beings.

Nicely written post.

the movie didn’t have any Iraqi characters at all, and all Iraqis formed part of the backdrop – peering over buildings, chattering away nonsensically, and making a nuisance of themselves, while the American’s worked hard to defuse bombs to protect them. It was either them or the terrorists, who were faceless. The Americans however had a very human face. Even the war junkie had a sensitive side as he likes children and takes it upon himself, even at his own cost, to find the ruthless murderers of the boy.

I found nothing in the movie that would make one incline towards the Iraqis.

I found nothing in the movie that would make one incline towards the Iraqis.

Maybe I have an inbuilt bias in favour of the Iraqis.

With the non discovery of WNDs the rights and wrongs of the war are fairly settled, even from the Western viewpoint; Ebert for example, as a US citizen, is quite vocal.

The main character is shown as a kind of mindless beast, one of many species created by war.

Maybe you should see Baran, by the Irani director Majidi.

I dont really expect an unbiased movie to be nominated for the Academy Awards anyway..

the Americans are at a point in their ‘war on terror’ where they need to believe they’re the heroes saving the world like they were made out to be in World War II. I havent seen this movie, and I dont feel I’ll miss anything by not watching it.

But there was one movie that I thought was really intelligent and spoke about military occupation from the point of view of the occupied and that was the Palestinian ‘Paradise Now’.

Have you seen it?

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