A short paper I wrote for my film class on the femininity of “The Hurt Locker”.

Kathryn Bigelow shows her femininity in The Hurt Locker. I look at this as a strong positive; good directors make themselves apparent in their films. There are two main ways in which she does so. She takes time to show beautiful images in the midst of violent or suspenseful scenes. Little care taken to ensure that military action of soldiers matched those that real soldiers would take. The latter detracts from the experience of the movie while the former enhances it.
Many directors have contrasted a suspenseful or violent situation with a still beautiful one. Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs has a great long take in which Mr. White is about to burn a police officer. The camera follows him from inside to a car outside where you can hear children playing in the distance. While this is similar to the tactics used by Bigelow, hers are distinctly female. In one of the more memorable scenes sergeant William James, played by Jeremy Renner, has a taxi driver at gunpoint. The driver may or may not have explosives in the car. Bigelow cuts between the driver, James, the surrounding guards, native onlookers, and a kite. A kite? A kite. The kite functions as a reminder of the immediate proximity of innocence and youth, which Renner has a soft spot for. The sensitive, emotional qualities of a kite in a situation like this seems feminine to me. One scene like this isn’t a red flag of a female director but a scene in combination with many others is.
The second point assumes that men have more of a ‘killer instinct’ while women are more compassionate. I can see how Bigelow made the decisions she did. The realistic depiction is usually not the most effective. Nevertheless, a couple scenes were frustratingly unrealistic. In the big sniper battle, the first British sniper is taken out long distance by an Iraqi standing up. This shot is next to impossible. While JT Sanbourne, played by Anthony Mackie, waits to get ammo, he does not seek cover. He lay in his position while being fired on. In the previously mentioned taxi scene, the taxi drives recklessly through a large group of soldiers, ignoring all commands to stop. The whole group of soldiers could have been killed if there was a bomb in the taxi. According to a Marine, the driver would have most definitely been shot.
The Hurt Locker is a brilliant film about Iraq. It provides a beautiful portrait of what happens psychologically to soldiers and how they cope. However, Bigelow should have hired someone to keep the military scenes more realistic. Kathryn Bigelow has finally realized her potential as a director with this brilliant, feminine, emotional piece.