Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Hurt Locker - a movie about the Iraq War -2009

The film features a scene where the EOD team is stranded in the desert and Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) has to assume sniper duties on the fly.

This past week I went to see ‘The Hurt Locker.” A film about the Iraq war.

If you are a reader of this blog you will know that I am a pacifist and definitely against war. I have posted several times expressing my anguish about how many have died and the current status of the wars that the United States are involved in.

During the Vietnam War there were accounts televised daily, reporting that day’s number of troops Killed in Action and the number who were wounded. Every evening we witnessed bloody war scenes of the actions that had taken place in the war zone. It was gruesome, and the high number of dead increased rapidly. (At the close of the war 58,209 US deaths had been recorded with more than 2,000 still missing.) As the public became desensitized to violent images on television, life went on as usual. However, the more we learned, the more anti war sentiment increased. Eventually there were thousands of anti-war demonstrations held around the country and finally a troop pull out was announced.

Some of these things are missing in the current Iraq/Afghanistan wars. They are almost invisible. We see a few mini clips of the war action in these countries, the bodies of those who are killed are returned quietly with very little fanfare, and until recently, it was forbidden to take photos of the flag draped caskets as they arrived home. The only way you hear of how many war casualties there are is to look them up online. As of this date: 5,173 killed in action and 1,342,801 Iraqis and Afghanis have been killed.

I wanted to view the film because I spend time protesting the wars, and telling as many people who will listen to me, how many people have died in these wars. I have friends who have completed active service in Iraq who are very tight lipped about what is actually going on there.

I am aware of the mounting numbers of troops who return wounded, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and several others who have committed suicide.

During the Vietnam war I worked for the American Red Cross at the McGuire Air Force/Fort Dix Army bases in New Jersey. My job was to greet the war wounded as they arrived to that part of the nation to be transferred to the Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. I was the first person they would see as they were disembarked from the aircraft on their stretchers. The patients were all holding their Purple Heart medals that had been presented to them as they boarded the planes in Vietnam. Most of them were in their teens (remember they were drafted at 18 then) and they all had lost either their sight and one or more of their limbs. I would help connect them with their one free phone call to the person of their choice, (mother, father, wife, etc.). There were no computers or cell phones in those days and there was no contact with their families while they were in Vietnam except by the occasional letter that was not always guaranteed to arrive.

I did my best to greet the men with a big smile even though my heart was breaking for them and their circumstances. This is when I personally witnessed the physical devastation that is the direct result of war.

Anyway, today as I protest against the war, I often find myself wondering just how is it ‘over there.’ What are the real circumstances?

I read the reviews about “The Hurt Locker” and decided to see if it was pure ‘Hollywood’ or if it showed the actual day to day lives of the military and civilians in that part of the world.
One review stated ‘while the film features its fair share of action movie danger and, yes, explosions, it derives a sobering weight from the very real efforts of the few American soldiers tasked with diffusing the Iraq War's most unpredictable weapons on a daily basis. Incredibly, the soldiers of the EOD -- short for the US Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team -- volunteer for this duty, an assignment with far more casualties than any other military post. ‘

Other reviews stated that it was a realistic depiction of what is actually happening in Iraq.
Reviewers state ‘The Hurt Locker is a film that was written by Playboy writer Mark Boal, who spent time in 2004 as an embedded journalist in Iraq. He turned his experiences and observations into a fictionalized character study of three bomb technicians in Baghdad. The film has earned some of the biggest raves of the year from critics who hail Boal's riveting characterizations and accolades are also going to Kathryn Bigelow for her superbly tense direction.’

Mr. Boal who was in Iraq as a reporter states that ‘the time in Iraq was really research, and I did additional research after that. It enabled us to make something that was pretty faithful to what life there was like in 2004.’

As I watched the film I gained some additional insight on just what life is like for those troops who are assigned there and what life must be like for the local citizens.
I still see war as senseless and it confirmed for me that there is still so much work to be done in getting the word out to those who appear to have, once again, become desensitized to U.S. troops coming home in wooden, flag draped boxes.

So, if you are against these wars please let someone else know. Write letters, make phone calls, stand out, demonstrate, and talk with others until someone listens.


What about the title of the film?
In Iraq, it is soldier vernacular to speak of explosions as
sending you to ”the hurt locker”

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