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Why Not Call it "'Kill Bill' Laden": The Problem with Bigelow's “Kill Bin Laden"

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik August 2, 2011 at 12:05PM

Why Not Call it "'Kill Bill' Laden": The Problem with Bigelow's “Kill Bin Laden"
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Kathryn Bigelow's new film "Kill Bin Laden" has a release date--Oct. 12, 2012--and it also has the kind of tricky subject matter, like "The Hurt Locker," that is unavoidably entangled with a pro-war political perspective.

A recent piece on the L.A. Times' movie blog, suggests the film, which follows American military efforts to hunt down Osama Bin Laden, will be marketed as a movie "above politics"--"an ideology-free 'thriller' about a dangerous mission undertaken by strong-stomached heroes." But the article also predicts the movie will "now doubtless get a happy coda with the terrorist leader's assassination in May."

Either way, it sounds like we're in store for the sort of rah-rah war-on-terror boosterism that is typical of Hollywood, and frankly, irresponsible, propagandistic and celebratory of violence, not unlike a combat video game. Maybe it should be called "'Kill Bill' Laden"

As I wrote about Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker,," "I don’t disparage Bigelow’s filmmaking skills—she knows how to raise the tension and keep the viewer clenched—but I don’t trust her politics."

"If, like many war movies, 'Hurt Locker' tries to leave the audience with a sense of the horrors of battle and how it can damage its participants, such insights are a mere band-aid over the film’s overwhelming mission: To entertain the audience with scenes of suspense, one after another."

"Kill Bin Laden" promises much of the same, and engulf the movie in the same political debate--can Bigelow really construct an apolitical movie about war, or as film critic and author David Sterritt wrote in a piece called "Screening the Politics Out of the Iraq War" "its politics are worrisome – not because they’re wrong, but because there are no politics in a film about the most politically fraught conflict in recent memory."

I also found "The Hurt Locker" most offensive in its depiction of Iraq itself and the Iraqi people: "A strange foreign culture, with images of grotesque gutted pigs and screaming, hysterical women, Bigelow’s Iraq is a Fox News Broadcast," I wrote. "Every five-o’-clock shadowed Arab is a potential threat and every cellphone is a ticking time bomb."

With a title like "Kill Bin Laden," loosely based on an account by a former military commander, and with a forward written by a FOX News Counter-terrorism Analyst, I doubt Bigelow will have learned to wider her perspective beyond skillful thrills.

This article is related to: War, Iraq, Anti-Hollywood