Posted by: Paul | 03/28/2010

Battling the Big “Hurt”

Funny. I’m not hearing much criticism any more about “The Hurt Locker.” Maybe there’s something to the rumor that the anti-talk was largely a “whispering campaign” by one or more of its competitors for Best Picture.

We kept hearing about veterans who called it inaccurate. C’mon. We’re not talking about a documentary here. I enjoyed the film, but I knew full well that it was a dramatization that featured fictional characters. Think about your favorite sports film. It may be based on a real-life case, but I’ll bet you know full well they made certain changes necessary to make it work as a two-hour drama. That probably doesn’t make you enjoy it any less.

Taking liberties in a fact-based drama is nothing new. And I don’t just mean when it comes to the small details. Consider the apology scene in “Patton.” After the controverial soldier-slapping incident, the general stands up in front of his entire command to apologize. What actually happened is something quite different.

Accuracy aside, the one thing I never got was the charge about “The Hurt Locker” being anti-American. Glenn Beck, for example, called it an “anti‑U.S. troops movie.”

If anything, “The Hurt Locker” is a pro-U.S. troops movie. It takes an apolitical stance on the Iraq war. For a Hollywood production, that alone is amazing. The troops shown are very human, very likeable. You see them going to great lengths to keep innocent bystanders safe. And the film sheds light on the unbelievably hard work they do as they handle the incredibly dangerous job of defusing bombs. (Really puts our own problems in perspective.) No one who sees this can walk away without renewed respect for our troops.

Sure, the lead character is reckless. He’s a daredevil that probably would be reprimanded, not rewarded. And yes, certain details of military protocol weren’t observed. But primarily in ways that heightened the drama — not in ways designed to discredit our troops.

And ask yourself: If James “King of the World” Cameron had gotten the Oscar for “Avatar,” you think he would have said anything nice about the troops from the podium, as Kathryn Bigelow did?

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