Tiny Beam of Light

Shining a tiny beam of light on some great films you might not know existed (and the odd blockbuster too).

The Hurt Locker (2008) dir: Kathryn Bigelow

Sorry for the long delay between posts but I’m working on my own movie at the moment (my first as director!) so I haven’t seen as much as I’d like.

Been a long while since Kathryn Bigelow’s last movie, ‘K-19: The Widowmaker’, and like that film and much of her other work ‘The Hurt Locker’ centers around a male group.  This story is based on writer/producer Mark Boal’s experiences when he was working as a journalist in Iraq circa 2004 and concerns a US bomb disposal team in Iraq – a volunteer team that work in and around Baghdad disarming Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). They do this every day knowing that they can be blown to kingdom come at any moment.

This is very much an independent film where both Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal have full creative control and it shows. Shot on super 16mm in 44 days this is a film with some incredibly tense sequences and well choreographed action. Surprisingly, one of them is the slowest gunfight I’ve ever seen which takes place between a sniper and the US soldiers over a distance of 1 km as the combatants watch each other through high powered telescopic sights. You wouldn’t think such a slow sequence could be so intense and suspenseful and is a masterclass in film making on its own.

As the team go from one disposal mission to the next I had a quick look around the audience and people actually were leaning forward and sitting on the edge of their seats. And I thought that was just an ad man’s phrase!

Shot primarily in Jordan, the director teamed up with Ken Loach’s regular director of photography Barry Ackroyd. They shot with 4 cameras simultaneously, then after each take all the camera positions would change so that the actors had no idea where the cameras would be, so the actors had to stay focused at all times. This has given the film a documentary style immediacy which generates excellent performances especially from Jeremy Renner as the team’s new bomb specialist.

It’s been out on limited release already in the USA and is definitely a film worth seeing. It doesn’t take sides or go into the politics behind the war, but follows the experience and personal trauma of a small group of soldiers.

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Filed under: action, drama, film, war, , , , , , ,

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