Themes And Techniques In Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker

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The best auteurs can change the world. Born on November 27, 1951, Kathryn Bigelow is a trailblazer for the female filmmaker. She originally studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, but then changed her path to film, and ultimately earn her master’s degree in film theory and criticism at Columbia University. Bigelow treats her films like paintings. While each are unique in their own respective way, there are still themes and techniques that are evident in each of her movies. Most, if not all, of her movies are thrilling, violent, and filled with adrenaline. She uses shaky camera shots and zoom shots to model realism and frantic, chaotic environments (New York Times). She also employs many different point of views with the camera.…show more content…
“Sergeant James... headsabomb-disposal squad, and his task is to defuse the omnipresent IEDs without blowing up his comrades or himself in the process” (Platzner) The Hurt Locker is an ideal frame of reference for Bigelow’s themes and techniques. Bigelow uses the camera to create a sense of hysteria and chaos on screen and to instill restlessness into the viewer. When James, Sanborn, and Owen, and a British squad in the middle of the desert are ambushed (0:54:17), Bigelow makes the camera very shaky and uses zoom shots to model the intense, frantic environment of a firefight (0:54:30). She also employs multiple different point of views in this scene, such as an over the shoulder shot of the British sergeant shooting war prisoners (0:55:31), a first person shot through the sniper’s scope (0:56:31), an Iraqi soldier looking back at the squad and through his sniper scope (0:57:07, 0:57:12, respectively), giving the audience a first person view of every aspect of the battle; it successfully translates the pressure and fear soldiers face in combat. Additionally, by using heat waves and shots of time passing as the soldiers accumulate more and more dust, Bigelow succeeds in creating an environment on screen that makes the audience feel hot and dry. Indeed, she succeeds in doing what ‘great’ auteurs do: through…show more content…
This claim, however, is under debate. While her movies do have a ‘Bigelow’ feel to them, she lacks the large body of work that is essential for an auteur. It is clear that she takes artistic command of most of her work, however, she has yet to create enough films to fully solidify this claim. For example, Spielberg, a legendary auteur, has directed fifty-seven films (IMDb), and it is clear many shots and themes remain congruent throughout them. Perhaps, what launches her into the auteur threshold might be sexist; there are no other female directors that have achieved her level of notoriety. “She has been praised repeatedly—and somewhat ironically—as the most ‘masculine’ of feminine directors working today, chiefly because she continues to display a fascination for action narratives and for characters caught up in violent conflict” (Platzner). These themes of masculinity are clearly observable and prevalent in The Hurt Locker and Detroit. Masculinity alone, however, should not be the factor that allows a female director to be considered an auteur. "She is not just a woman, but she often directed [her movies] in a way that makes feminist film critics certain that she was secretly speaking to them, stretching out the homoerotic scenes, or casting leading ladies with butch haircuts who know how to hold a gun
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