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“The Hurt Locker” Tells a Story of Addiction Through War

An elite American Army bomb squad encountered perils and difficulties in Iraq during the Iraq Military, which are explored in the war movie "The Hurt Locker." The character of Staff Sergeant William James, who is depicted as being hooked to the adrenaline rush of defusing explosives and the sense of purpose it gives him, touches on themes of addiction even though the film does not overtly address addiction.


James is portrayed as being extremely affected by both the stress of being in a conflict zone and the death of his prior squad leader throughout the entire movie. He starts to put his professional obligations ahead of his personal connections and his own safety as he grows fixated on his work and the rush of risk it delivers.


This behavior, which entails a detrimental pattern of seeking out and participating in high-risk activities despite the consequences, could be considered as a metaphor for addiction. The movie also examines the psychological impacts of combat and the challenges that troops encounter when they leave a high-stress, high-stakes setting and return to civilian life. This is a recurring topic in many addiction-related stories because persons with addictions to substances or behaviors frequently find it difficult to adjust to life without them and may experience a sense of emptiness or lack of purpose in their absence.

James is the opposite of the characters around him and Bigelow makes sure to use that as the centerpiece for her film. He is resistant, impulsive and reckless in a somewhat professional manner. The character is shown to be efficient and able to do his job, but ignores his team members and creates a thick tension to start with. 


Bigelow makes James the problem in this film despite showing his efficiency and skill by making sure to show the audience his excessive need to fulfill what he believes must be done. There are many moments with him where we feel the adrenaline rush of him being in a dangerous position and the satisfaction to complete those missions.


Again, I believe this movie shows addiction, and not all addictions have to do with drugs. James is an addict to adrenaline and is driven by reckless impulses that affect the people around him. The director shows his excitement with shaky, quick shots when he is immersed in defusing bombs unlike the long and almost dreadful scenes of him standing in a grocery store. 


We feel the intensity of the sun through the scenes of him in Iraq and how he feels free to be in charge of life and death when he is stationed away, unlike the way he feels ignored and useless when he is finally back home. The editing of dullness towards the end of the film when he is reunited with his wife and son is the least exciting part of this movie since we see him do boring stuff like clean out the gutters or peel carrots. 


On the other hand, Sanborn and Eldridge are normal characters in a movie about being a soldier and dealing with everyday life and death situations. Bigelow shows us these characters first so we can get a taste of how brash James is and she does this by showing the dullness in terms of them serving as opposed to them back home. 


We also get some three-shots to show the main group we have been dealing with since the beginning with Thompson,then with James. The scene where after Thompson dies and Sanborn is placing a belonging in his box shows the dull reality of where they are. Despite it being a well-lit scene and there being many colors, the scene is still dull and almost the way James sees his life back home.


With Eldrige, Bigelow demonstrates the harsh realities of many soldiers who go through traumatic events and how he freezes at points in the film and the effect being stationed in Iraq has had on him. The director allows us to feel his shock and frustration by involving things like his therapy sessions and then the way his reaction is filmed after Cambridge’s death. 


The interactions between James and Eldrige lead to the consequences of James’s actions. James tries to motivate him and calm him during intense moments, but when he forces them to go searching for those responsible for some of the events that happen throughout the movie, Eldrige is shot by James and breaks their friendship since the event would not have happened had it not been for James being reckless.


The sounds throughout the film are very sudden and loud just as it would be for the characters out in the field. Especially when James is in his room blasting metal music, it shows to us that he is drowning out everything else around him.  


In the film's opening, roaming animals, car horns, and garbled voices are overlaid with snippets of Arabic overlaid with roaming animals and car horns. It suggests that this place is messy, foreign, and filthy and when the Army comes it sweeps the crowds and cars away to a safe distance. A contrastive aural environment is provided by the U.S. at their camp shortly after; the cars, drills, and weapons are all loud. The characters are constantly moving, and the sounds follow them inside and outside the base.


James's obsession with the rush of defusing bombs and the feeling of being in control of life and death leads him to prioritize his work over his team and personal relationships. He is willing to risk their safety to prove a point and assert his dominance. 


The film's ending shows James's realization of the cost of his actions and the realization that he cannot return to the rush of war. He is left with the dreary reality of civilian life, unable to escape the emptiness and lack of purpose he feels without the rush of danger. Bigelow uses the loud music and bright sun to show that James will never be able to fully move on from the rush and feeling of being in the field making life or death decisions.

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