Iraq film explores soldiers' addiction to danger

Thu Sep 4, 2008 1:50pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - In "The Hurt Locker," the latest film about the war in Iraq, a bomb disposal expert takes risks beyond the call of duty as he comes to realize that only one thing makes him feel truly alive -- dicing with death.

Director Kathryn Bigelow, in her first feature for six years, explores why, in a time when most armies are full of volunteers rather than draftees, many men choose to fight.

Staff Sergeant William James, played by Jeremy Renner, takes over a bomb disposal team in Baghdad, and the loose cannon quickly ups the already high stakes by going where he does not have to go.

The movie, which premieres at the Venice film festival on Thursday, is packed with tension and violence, and paints an essentially sympathetic picture of a group of men stuck in a living hell which affects them in different ways.

From the point of view of a paranoid soldier counting down the days until he goes home, every pile of rubble on the streets could be a bomb and every passer-by could be a killer.

"It's almost a dirty little secret of war that, as horrible as it is, there are some men who through the intensity of the experience come to find it alluring," said Mark Boal, the screenwriter who was in Iraq as a reporter in 2004.

Bigelow, for whom "The Hurt Locker" is the first feature since submarine drama "K-19: The Widowmaker" in 2002, said she wanted to try and put the audience into the situations soldiers in Iraq faced every day.

"My interest was to give this conflict a human face and to enable an audience to actually experience what a soldier experiences," the U.S. film maker told reporters.   Continued...

<p>U.S. director Kathryn Bigelow takes a picture during a red carpet event at the Venice Film Festival September 4, 2008. Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" is shown in competition at the Venice Film Festival. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse</p>