Friday, October 22, 2010

The Hurt Locker Discussion Points

Thanks to all show came out and supported the film screening of The Hurt Locker and also to those who stayed to participate in the discussion. There was a great turnout!

Here are some discussion points to consider- Feel free to express any thoughts in the comment section of the blog.

1. In certain sequences, the camera almost becomes your eyes, as though there is no camera and no cameraman. A little like Errol Morris's style in Fog of War. Do you agree?

2. In the opening scene is a quote from Chris Hedges=s War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning: I've put more of it here (from p. 3 of his book):

The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug, one I ingested for many years. It is peddled by mythmakers ... It dominates culture, distorts memory, corrupts language, and infects everything around

it ...

The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.

What characters and scenes from the film confirm this idea in your mind (if any do)?

Perhaps compare this idea (maybe in James=s character?) with ...

Anthony Swofford in the book Jarhead, a Marine sniper whose entire training comes down to wanting to fulfill his duty, but when toward the end of the book he asks for permission to complete his duty (AI request permission to take shots. The men in the tower are perfect targets.) he is told that he cannot (ANegative on permission to shoot ... If their buddies next to them start taking rounds in the head ... they won=t surrender ...).

He completes the thought at the end of the book with, To be a marine, a true marine, you must kill. With all of your training, all of your expertise, if you don't kill, you're not a combatant, even if you have been fired at, and so you are not a marine: receiving fire is easy ... You will receive the Combat Action Ribbon, and if unlucky enough to have been hit but not fatally, a Purple Heart, or if you are hit fatally, your mother will receive your Purple Heart, but whether you are dead or not, you haven=t, with your own hands, killed a hostile enemy soldier. This means everything ... During the darkest nights you=d even offer your life to go back in time, back to the Desert for the chance to kill.

Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July, who, although paralyzed and mistreated in a VA hospital, has an extremely difficult time readjusting to his family and home in Massapequa, NY

Mary Anne Bell, a character in The Things They Carried, by Tim O=Brien, who comes to visit her boyfriend in Vietnam, and finds herself losing her innocence to the seduction of war, to the point where she says, Sometimes I want to eat this place. Vietnam. I want to swallow the whole country - the dirt, the death - I just want to eat it and have it there inside me.... When I=m out there at night, I feel close to my own body, I can feel my blood moving ... You can't feel like that anywhere else.

3. Is the film about war or about the human condition in a war setting?

4. This film was made while the Iraq war was still in play. Could that have been done during the American war in Vietnam?

5. Is this an antiwar film? Does it make any sort of political statement?

6. The film was criticized by some veterans/groups for inaccuracies. If this is the case, do they interfere with your opinion of the film?

7. What does the title mean to you?

8. Morris Dickstein (Professor of English at CUNY) wrote in Dissent this summer:

Hurt Locker Aneither glorified the war as a scene of heroism nor condemned it for the political deception, wretched planning, and wanton loss of life that made those years so disastrous ... Instead. like the best WWII films, it focused on the tensions within a small group of men doing a dangerous but essential job. Do you agree with this, after having watched the film?

9. If war is a drug, as Hedges asserts, then how do we account for the difference between James and JT? JT is not interested in the Adrug@ of war, but only in staying alive and going home. And Eldridge himself, close to the end, seems quite fed up with James=s risky behavior.

10. Does the war-is-a-drug comment really apply to a character in the movie, or to the United States? To President George W. Bush?

11. Staying with that theme, Erasmus wrote Asweet is war to those who do not know it. Does this movie encourage us to add, maybe after seeing what James does at the end of the film, A... and sweeter still to those who do?

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