Kathryn Bigelow broke records by being the first female to win a best director Oscar, for the film ‘The Hurt Locker’. Finally, an outstanding director of the fairer sex was rewarded for her craft by an industry dominated by men. To a large extent, the industry is still stuck in the past. Back then, it represented a political and cinematic milestone; and it remains so today. Although it might appear contradictory that Bigelow received recognition for a film where women did not feature much, she has always had an interest in masculinity — along with its’ enigmas, rituals, discontents and annihilating, staggering capacity for violent behavior.
Bigelow reflects on the obstacles encountered when filming ‘The Hurt Locker’. Also, she directed ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ as well as the upcoming ‘Detroit’.
The self annihilating nature of the violence is graphically portrayed during ‘The Hurt Locker’. The film is set in Baghdad while the Iraq war was happening, one year after the US invasion. The film follows three people, who worked for a military explosive disposal team, which disables roadside bombs. The film’s focus is the team’s temperamental leader, Sergeant James (played by Jeremy Renner), who has become a maniac due to his battlefield experiences. He does not only take preventable risks — with sweat falling off him, a frustrated James takes his protective bomb clothing off, while attempting to disable a bomb, then rushes straight at it.
Military conflict has provided James with a purpose in life, and he has embraced this in many ways. He has status, rank, camaraderie (albeit begrudging) and accolades. Military conflict has damaged James as well though, but not in a literal sense and not in the manner that most films suggest, when they portray war horrors with their cliched heroic triumphs and tales of selfless endeavor.