Kathryn Bigerow’s film The Hurt Locker portrays America in a heroic way, but what messages is it really trying to get out to people? Certainly a movie promoting the American Military could not have a negative say on the country, or could it? Behind the scenes of this film are some very powerful and arguably true statements made about the United Stated of America. The film takes place in modern day Iraq with a rowdy cowboy bomb diffuser as the protagonist. This hands on; do-it-yourselfer portrays traditional American values. Get work done now and ask questions later, if you have to get your hands a little dirty then so be it.

In fact, that’s how the main character wants it to be. Instead of relying on the technology that has been said to save lives in combat, he chooses to take the risk and do things himself. Staff Sergeant James is his name, and he is on a three man EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) team. The other two members of his team, after recently losing their previous team leader, are skeptical to go all out into combat unless it is absolutely necessary, while James throws on his protective gear and walks straight down a street to find and disarm the next bomb.

James can be argued to be a symbol for America itself, a gung-ho fearless warrior. But not everything portrayed by him is good. In the film, James loves being in Iraq, he loves the adrenaline rush and he loves the excitement. When he is sent home it shows him bored and only wanting to go back. This easily could be associated with America’s war addiction. Another example is when Staff Sgt. James and Sgt. Sanborn are approaching the American base and over the headset you hear “Welcome to Camp Victory gentlemen” (The Hurt Locker). Then James says “Victory?

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Thought it was Camp Liberty” (The Hurt Locker) and Sanborn replies “Oh, no. They changed it ’bout a week ago. Victory sounds better” (The Hurt Locker). This is ironic because the meaning of Liberty is the right to free will, to govern one’s self according to your own beliefs, and to take responsibility for your actions. While Victory is a term used mostly in warfare, or when a military campaign is a success. This can also symbolize that as Americans were more concerned about our military success then the good and welfare of civilians. War is a drug, and America is addicted.

Through the use of symbolism in this film we can also decode a few other messages. There is a scene where James is walking down the street and comes across the IED (improvised explosive device) that he is looking for. As per usual he squats down and takes a look, meticulously separating colored wires and boom, he finishes. That is until he finds that this one bomb only leads to a network of several other bombs around him. This symbolizes terrorism, and how we think we have it in our sights and under control, but really it’s a very complex network of “bombs and wires” if you will.

There is no “head” that you can just cut off and be done with it; it will most likely never go away. Where there is one there is guaranteed to be many more. One of the most powerful scenes in the film is where James is at home, in a grocery store with his wife looking at cereal. This scene was one of the most powerful because it shows the pointlessness in everyday American life. It shows how stupid people are and how they are being blinded by material possessions instead of seeing how the world really works. James realizes this, and he leaves his wife and child just to go back.

This scene can also be taken as America being bored, and provoking war just to have something to do because the life were in now doesn’t live up to what we want it to be. This film portrays an important part of our existence. War is a drug and America is most certainly addicted to it. We come up with excuses to meander in other people’s business. I would hope this film teaches all Americans an important lesson, which is war is a drug, once you have to much of it, it can become deadly fairly quickly.

Works Cited

“Liberty. ” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 25 Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Nov. 2011. ;http://en. ikipedia. org/wiki/Liberty;. The Hurt Locker. Dir. Kathyrn Bigelow. By Mark Boal. Perf. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty. Voltage Pictures, 2008. DVD. “The Hurt Locker (2008) – IMDb. ” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Amazon, 10 Sept. 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2011. ;http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0887912/;. “The Hurt Locker (2008) – Memorable Quotes. ” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Amazon. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. ;http://www. imdb. com/title/tt0887912/quotes;. “Victory. ” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 13 Oct. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2011. ;http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Victory;.


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