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Arts and Culture

‘Hurt Locker’ Wins Big at Oscars

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Posted on Mar 7, 2010

It was the first Iraq war movie to really break through, and now “The Hurt Locker” has won six Academy Awards, including best picture and best director, marking the first time an Oscar for directing has gone to a woman. The movie opens with a quote from Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges.

“The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” Hedges wrote that line in his book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.”

The film is surprisingly apolitical, given its subject matter. It was written and co-produced by Mark Boal, a journalist who won an Oscar for his screenplay.

The winning director, Kathryn Bigelow, was only the fourth woman ever nominated in that category. She beat out, among others, Lee Daniels, who would have been the first African-American to take home the best-director statuette.  —PZS


This summer, we embark on our inaugural Truthdig Trek—an Appalachian backpacking trip and book lecture tour with publisher Zuade Kaufman and celebrated author and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, with hiking led by Thomas Hedges. This one-of-a-kind expedition will offer some of the best mountain scenery on the East Coast, and will include discussions of Chris Hedges’ best-selling work, War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. We invite you to make this unique journey with us! Click here for complete details. If you are interested, please let us know immediately—space is very limited.


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By mimi67, April 2, 2012 at 2:31 am Link to this comment

Hurt Locker is one of the best movie about the soldiers detailed in Iraq. It also shows their everyday challenges in their work and how they put their life on the line just to save the country from tyrants. Tony Robbin

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, April 24, 2010 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

soldier’s rifles are automatic
the bullets are a steel core encased in lead
there’s is no such thing as not having a shot
if a man is holding a cell phone about to blow your buddy up
you can shoot through posts poles and walls
and most certainly through a few bits of linen floating in the wind
possibly killing him from flying debris or blowing off an arm or two
if you manage to wing him

a fifty caliber rifle is a misnomer
it should be called a fifty caliber cannon
it’s shell hitting a brick wall does not emit a puff of smoke
it blows a hole the size of a bowling ball
think of them as jeep killers

an insurgent in brick building where the the shell hits
takes note of bowling bowl size hole and hauls ass
realizing he might as well be standing naked with his pecker hanging out
as standing behind that wall when there’s fifty caliber rounds blowing it to pieces

along same lines
shooting at people with a fifty cal tends to piss them off
so if they spend an hour or two hiding from your fire
and then sneak around behind for a shot at your back
they do not wait for you to kill them first
they shoot you in the back

great characterization great camera work
great editing great dialog
bad bad bad use of guns
guns don’t kill people
they blow them to pieces

d.r. zing, april 24, 2010, notes for kathryn bigelow

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By Rick R., March 15, 2010 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Who cares about the oscars? Every year it’s Hollywood patting itself on the
back for its mediocrity. And why is it the duty of a filmmaker to pump an
agendum that suits you? It’s just another action movie. It was good. Too
much whining going on here.

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By Jamie, March 15, 2010 at 9:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am just baffled at the almost universal love for
this film. It’s not that it’s a bad film, it’s a good
action movie, but that’s it. There are plenty of good
action movies. The characters are thin, even the
protagonists. The dialog is sparse. The action is
first rate, but since when does that get you a slew
of Academy Awards?

Beyond that, it’s got more story problems than you
can shake a stick at. Our hero can defuse a dozen
bombs while throwing caution to the wind, and the
only time the bad guys manage to detonate one in time
to kill an American is when it’s the psychiatrist
standing next to one? Huh? Makes not a lick of sense.

Reiterating the previous comment - “Three Kings” was
a far superior film ten years ago. It had a message
and more importantly, it had a story that was more
sophisticated than a couple hours playing “Call of

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By John Earl, March 13, 2010 at 4:42 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a pre-award commentary on the film that offers a critical viewpoint:


Why is The Hurt Locker the year’s most acclaimed film? It’s an artfully made
thriller, say critics, and the first Iraq War film that captures the experience of
American soldiers there. I agree it’s a first-rate thriller but how credible is a
Hollywood movie that uses the disaster that was the Iraq War — and the
uneasy occupation of U.S. soldiers there — as the setting for an action thriller?

The American snipers are the good guys and the Iraqi insurgents are the bad
guys. Is it any surprise that this is one Iraq War film that even conservatives and
right wingers are unafraid to like? After her share of BAFTA awards, its director
Kathryn Bigelow told a TV journalist backstage: “The movie pays tribute to the
conflict in Iraq, to the courage of the men and women there.” That’s fine. As
long as it’s also paying tribute to the fighters on both sides — but it doesn’t.
The insurgents are anonymous in the film, shapeless blurs in the shimmering
desert. As the American snipers and bomb diffusers roam Baghdad dismantling
charges and picking off resistance fighters, Iraqi children and women and men
watch silently (and ominously) from balconies and windows.

The audience roots for the snipers, cheering when the American soldiers hit
their targets and the bodies of natives drop like rubble. As for its authenticity,
Iraq veterans and embedded reporters have pointed to several sections of the
film being so unrealistic and inaccurate that the movie felt like a parody to
them. Bigelow has never made anything other than adrenaline-fuelled thrillers,
so you couldn’t help wondering if dedicating her BAFTA award to “finding a
solution to peace” was really Oscar talk more than political statement.

it’s America’s way of saying: look it’s not exactly been a picnic there for us

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By ofersince72, March 11, 2010 at 5:47 am Link to this comment

I am glad that I don’t spend on penny to support
Hollywood.  Screw their Oscars and them.
Was it a political war movie???/  Screw Hollywood !!!!!!
I will put it on my long list of films not to see !!!!!!

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By Buzz, March 10, 2010 at 10:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I thought the shot of Renner’s character looking down the aisle when he got back home was very political.

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By Nora, March 10, 2010 at 5:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just curious. How many of you ever actually served in the armed forces? I
haven’t. I’ve seen this film and i think it’s a strong, implicit indictment of the Iraq war, in
fact, war in general, at the same time viewing the soldiers as victims themselves.
Not only of the forces which put them there, but of their own
passionate desires to face danger and maybe to “do good.” Having a son i have a
strong sense of how males grow up in this culture of machismo. The
expectations and pressure to identify with this stereotype, not only send our male children into
harms way in war, but also screw with their identities when they are not violent
by nature. Maybe by being “neutral” this film will speak to those who are not part of the choir.

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By Glen Wayne, March 9, 2010 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

It is about time a female director won the award. Cameron’s X wife certainly
could not have had a different take on plunder and power than her husband did
in Avatar.

One thing that I noticed watching the awards was the pervasive thankfulness
for the celebrant’s mothers. ..Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock come to mind.

Is there a relationship between nurture and empire building? I noticed that the
male suits were rather bleak in comparison to the females! I suppose this is in
contrast to the Burka. How does the mating ritual enter into the power
relationships in these vastly different societies?

Is this part of the ‘Id developed’ being?..or the obedient ritual abiding
competitive son or daughter or is it also ..the want to be a warrior player mate
or is there merely a need to protect the status quo or an instilled culture?

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By Rsteff, March 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Although the tone of the movie seems to be quite
apolitical, the music the main character listens to is
not - when we are first introduced to him he is
blasting a metal band called ‘Ministry’ that are
anything but apolitical. I presume the film makers were
aware of this when they chose it..  perhaps reflecting
their own perspective on the war.

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Calabashe's avatar

By Calabashe, March 9, 2010 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment

Sorry - Change that to the Tillman Brothers proved you can be libral and patriots.

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Calabashe's avatar

By Calabashe, March 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

IMHO - The Academy’s support for “The Hurt Locker” is a display of Patriotism. Who says you can’t be liberal and a patriot? Pat Tillman proved that.

I hate the war in Iraq but I’m still concerned for our loved ones there, past and present. War is madness. Sometimes necessary - like when a zealot murders 3000 people.

So what’s up with Osama been Forgotten?

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By diman, March 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

I said it before on this forum, that the only film
among non-documentaries that truly reflects the
nightmarish situation in Iraq is HBO’s “Generation
Kill”. It is worth watching.

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Russian Paul's avatar

By Russian Paul, March 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Let’s not forget, they hired Blackwater to help make the film more realistic.
Besides being unnecessary, it makes me really distrust the motives of this
director, I will not be watching her film.

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By diman, March 9, 2010 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

To Jeremy Keith Hammond

I don’t have to define my views of war, I know
exactly what war means, there is nothing there that
has been said by Mr.Hedges about the war, that
hadn’t been said already by any other progressive
thinker, whom without doubt I consider Mr.Hedges to
be. I just gave my opinion to his statement about
the war, that is all. I didn’t suggest anything
prematurely and I didn’t question Mr. Hedges’s
credibility in any way. War is not a drug and
somehow I don’t think that this young man was a
junkie high on

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By elwoodpdowd, March 9, 2010 at 6:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sorry, but I didn’t find the film apolitical at all. It is nationalism and militarism wrapped in a weepy ” Our Boys Are the Best and Bravest in The World” collage. John Ford would have applauded. If you want to see antiwar films- ( which is what I always look for in such a film) the three best are still Paths of Glory; Casualties of War; and Born on the Fourth of July.

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By Inherit The Wind, March 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment

How do you measure quality in a movie? What makes a movie “best” other than lobbying and votes?

The Oscars are nothing but marketing bullshit.  Mediocre and average performances beat genius every time. Mediocre movies that are passe in a year beat eternal films all the time.
Here’s just a few travesties (IMHO)

Ordinary People vs Raging Bull
The Last Emperor vs Empire of the Sun
How Green Was My Valley vs Citizen Kane
The French Connection vs A Clockwork Orange.

Meryl Streep, Judy Dench and Helen Mirren have each won one Oscar for Best Actress, as many as Julia Roberts.  Sally Fields has won 2. So has Hillary Swank.

James Mason never won an Oscar. Tom Hanks has two.

Awards for art are BULLSHIT!  If you think the Oscars are meaningless, the Grammys and Tonys are even less meaningful.

At least The People’s Choice Awards are based on pure public popularity, at least as legit a basis as “The Academy” for choosing what is “best”.

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By P. T., March 8, 2010 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

It is funny that civilian movie critics talk about the film’s realism while Explosive Ordnance Disposal troops say the film is phony.

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By NYCartist, March 8, 2010 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

How could a movie about US empire invading a country be “apolitical”?  I’m glad a woman director won.  As to the voting, I suspect some thought it would prove “patriotism”.

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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, March 8, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

Twice in her speech Ms. Bigelow gave love to all those in US military service.

Love hurts:

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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, March 8, 2010 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

So an “apolitical” movie about the Iraq war takes the prize…

while “Up” wins for “animated feature”.

The Academy must have forgotten to do its homework on Ed Asner:

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By Benjamin Tasker, March 8, 2010 at 8:09 am Link to this comment


I’ve heard many stories about drug users that make you
wonder what’s so “addictive” about them too. Read ALL
of Chris Hedges book, “War is a Force that gives us
Meaning.” It is an incredibly authoritative book about
war that will surprise military enthusiasts and
pacifists alike.

It’s either a very premature suggestion that Chris
Hedges doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it
comes to war - or you better have some strong evidence
to the contrary. Lot’s of readers at Truthdig will like
to criticize his writing when it comes to politics -
but if there’s anything Hedges knows best, it’s the
realities of war. The most experienced military
veterans will have a hard time comparing how many front
lines they’ve seen.

I STRONGLY suggest you (and everyone) read his book
“War is a Force that gives us Meaning.” Not just to
prove my point, either. It will really define your view
of war when you’re done.

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By Vic Anderson, March 8, 2010 at 8:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yeah, war gives US meaning; and Are WE MEAN!

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By diman, March 8, 2010 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

What a wrongful statement by Hedges, I mean come on,
war is a drug? Really? I had a neighbor once, a veteran
of the Soviet Armed Forces in invasion of Afghanistan
back in the 80’s, his company’s APC got blown up on the
Italian made anti-tank mine, you know the ones in a
plastic casing that dogs can hardly pick up the scent
of. He survived with a heavy contusion, such a
contusion, that a slight change in weather gave you
such a headaches you would crawl the walls. He told me
stories that could hardly be called addictive.

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By Commune115, March 8, 2010 at 1:27 am Link to this comment

The only thing Limousine Liberal Hollywood did tonight was show that if you want to win the Oscar with an Iraq War movie, make sure it doesn’t actually have anything to say about the war itself and just recycles old war movie cliches. Oh, and make sure all the Arab characters are phantoms or cartoons.

David O. Russell’s “Three Kings” remains the best movie about US involvement in Iraq.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, March 8, 2010 at 1:02 am Link to this comment

Lets see, an apolitical war thriller… where have I heard that before? The Hedges quote about war being a drug? There is nothing profound about that.How about: :The rush of overeating is often a potent and lethal addiction, for overeating is a drug.”
You could substitute NASCAR racing, luge training, or text messaging for that matter. To put it another way: what a profoundly silly sentence.
Making “thrilling” war movies is the handiwork of ghouls.

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kerryrose's avatar

By kerryrose, March 8, 2010 at 12:17 am Link to this comment

I haven’t seen ‘Hurt Locker.’  I hear that it is American war propaganda which should give a boost to enlistment.  Boys will be boys; imperialists will be imperialists.

Not having a political agenda about the Iraq War is actually making a political statement.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, March 7, 2010 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment

Nice job Academy. Almost makes up for that travesty last year. Slumdog?

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