These two movies about the Second Gulf War tell us much about the American psyche when it comes to people’s thoughts about the invasion of Iraq. I am not planning on really reviewing the movies in this article. Instead I want to focus more upon their political significance. On one hand we have The Hurt Locker which The Telegraph tells us:
is not so much about Iraq as it is about war and addiction to danger.
The synopsis of this film on the Internet Movie Database is as follows:
Iraq. Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.
The Hurt Locker is essential a film about a man (solider, husband, father, American, artist) who is a bomb disposal expert who would rather be doing nothing else than defusing bombs in a life threatening environment. The fact that the movie is set in war torn Iraq is almost incidental to the story. The movie takes a completely non-critical line with regards to the Iraq War. By focusing on the main characters in their tour of duty, it passes no judgement upon the validity of the actual invasion. Could a film about rape be made like this?
Interestingly, it is actually ex-military personnel that are criticizing this movie where as the flag-waiving Support the Troops crowd view it a lot more positively. Go figure. One ex-soldier comments in the Washington Post (my emphasis):
[I]f this movie was based on a war that never existed, I would have nothing to comment about. This movie is not based on a true story, but on a true war, a war in which I have seen my friends killed, a war in which I witnessed my ranger buddy get both his legs blown off. So for Hollywood to glorify this crap is a huge slap in the face to every soldier who’s been on the front line.
On their website, imbd.com has this to say about Green Zone.
Discovering covert and faulty intelligence causes a U.S. Army officer to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region.
In many ways, it is not surprising that Matt Damon is associated with this second movie. He plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a morally upstanding soldier keen to find Iraq’s WMDs which the world was told about prior to the invasion. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes more and more apparent that the so called “evidence” that we were presented to justify the invasion was simply a pack of lies.
Damon is a well known humanitarian involved with a number of causes, e.g. water.org – a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. This makes his contribution to the movie Green Zone all the more meaningful.
He talks a little bit about his dis-satisfaction with the Obama administration on CNN with Piers Morgan. To be clear for all the knuckle-heads out there. His point is that Obama is being too conservative.
Does art exist in a vacuum? All I’ll say on this matter for now is that when art (in this case movies) use a political topic (in this case war) for their subject matter then they are voluntarily stepping out of the artistic vacuum and into the real world. To make a movie about a political topic by its very nature, becomes political. Thus by The Hurt Locker’s glorification of war and danger as well as its complete refusal to deal with the reasons for war, it became a pro-war film.
By contrast, Green Zone is an action packed movie that integrates the web of lies told to justify the invasion into its story. It’s interesting that its the anti-war movie which has the more action packed scenes.