Friday, August 14, 2009

Neither Victory Nor Defeat


Just danger and damage are what bomb specialists experience in The Hurt Locker. It's like video production in the sense that you go somewhere with a certain amount of equipment packed into a van, you don't know what you are going to face, and the job might turn out to be a lot crazier than you thought. And when it's over, normal life seems relatively pointless. Of course, in war, the danger, adrenaline rush, need to release anxiety later, and disassociation from normal American life are a million times greater.

While Svetx disliked the use of slow-mo in one shot at the end, I welcomed the movie's tendency toward understatement in several respects. Like Full Metal Jacket, it kept a detached distance from characters and concentrated on circumstances instead of emotions. Like a good European movie, it did not try to tell the audience what to think. Each scene did not lead to the next in the literal sense of Hollywood flicks where it's too clear what is going to happen. Instead we get what I think are very realistic portrayals of aspects of a soldier's life: giddy optimism in approaching a new bomb to be diffused; raw acknowledgment that in the next instant, he could be toast; and the rough carousing later in the barracks. (I've never been in a war nor even in the military, so you could question my judgment on this.) In the end, what each soldier has is a personal experience. He goes over there, survives or dies, and comes home. There is neither victory parade nor shameful defeat.

Next time some politician starts saying we need to go to war in another country, the real question is, do we want to engage in a counterinsurgency lasting many years and leading to the establishment of a government that is what its own people make it, not what we dream of for them, and likely not worth our money and lives?

1 comment:

svetx said...

To be clear, I disliked the use of slow mo b/c it seemed like OVER statement.