05 February 2010

Artistic License in War Movies

Kate Hoit, aka GI Kate, an Iraq vet and internet buddy has an article about The Hurt Locker in Huffington Post that has solicited 400+ comments. She criticizes the film for lacking authenticity, being over the top, and its inability to get simple details correct like rank and uniform. It's tough to go up against a movie with a tomatometer rating of 97%(and the tomatometer don't lie), and the competition in the genre of Iraq/A-stan movie is really crappy, so that fact alone makes this movie look like Citizen Kane.

Coincidentally, I saw the movie last night and thought it was pretty interesting: well-acted, well-shot, and tons of action. I don't know much about EOD, but it is obvious that Hollywood took some artistic license in the creation of this film. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because a true-to-life war movie would be more like the infamous Onion spoof: sitting around waiting for orders, waiting in line at the phone trailer to call your girlfried, etc. Crimson Tide is one of the more famous submarine movies, and it is quite enjoyable and therefore absolutely not at all a reflection of reality. A submarine movie that was based on real life on a submarine would probably be like watching a double-feature of Heaven's Gate and Ishtar...with Catwoman thrown in for an encore.

So, Kate, I'm not going to fault Hollywood for taking some liberties, as they never claimed this was reality. But, as always, I love your tendency to challenge the status quo on issues pertaining to veterans. I just hope for the day when vets use the GI Bill to become great screenwriters/directors/actors, then maybe there will be something in the cultural mainstream that isn't just another action flick.

10 comments:

subrookie said...

I liked her review. I haven't seen the movie, but seem to remember you hammered it when it and Brothers when they first came out. I might get it on NetFlix but I'm a little tired of the liberal people in Hollywood who are against any war making movies about people who are in a combat zone.

Karl said...

I've worked with/in/embedded/whatever with our military a lot and very much dislike Hollywood's artistic license because even I can get the details right. I saw "Stop Loss" and "The Messenger," but haven't seen "The Hurt Locker" for precisely this reason.

One would think that their "military consultants" would be so ashamed of their failures that they would decline screen credit, but none do. One wonders why the studios bother to hire them at all.

That said, I thank Hollywood and, even better, indie film types for sharing the stories, even if they have to jazz them up. I was in Baghdad for 13 months and back for three and I still think about it every single day.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Like I say: "IFH" It's Fucking Hollywood.

lela said...

I'm a big GIKate fan....and loved her review, even if I haven't seen the movie. I, too, hope for the day when the Hollywood elites are invaded by those with ACTUAL military experience. Like Subrookie, I'm very tired of Hollywood's propensity to make movies with an anti-military message. I'm with Kate, though, that if someone makes a military movie, they ought to take the time (and have the respect) to get the details right.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the LT. Typically, that would be a 3hr movie showing 2 guys playing an x-box, or it would be a 4hr movie about them blowing up a single IED. Lots of radio chatter, and trying to get permission to blow it up. So exciting. I don;t see the movie being grammy material though. It wasn't that good. Inglorious Basterds was fucking funny though. That one should win a grammy.

Kanani said...

I think all movies, works of fiction and even memoirs take some artistic license.
It's always a juggle to figure out how to make a storyline move, what's going to be the compelling thread that makes viewers or readers want to stay not set it down or buy a ticket.

I do think it's true that it's the little details that gives something its authenticity, and those details must be correct. There's a certain sloppiness when something is wrong --and that goes all the way from the externals to the emotions depicted by the writer. Everything has to be in sync.

The Hurt Locker, as inaccurate as it may be, did do one thing: it had a mass wide appeal and got a lot of people to sit up and bring the war onto their radar. It's not lost on me that the general public knows more about Perez Hilton than they do about this war we're in.

And spare us the Ishtars, the Heaven's Gates, the Cotton Clubs and anymore sequels to The Godfather!

Gatehouse Academy Review said...

Im gonna bring up Lawrnece of Arabia though Apocalypse Now is my favorite i think Lawrence of Arabia is stunning its wide open with REAL galloping horses wonderful performances and a great story im slowly trudging through revolt in the desert which is the fantastice trimmed down auto biography of T.E. Lawrence wondeful story. VERY epic which is one thing most good war movies include

WebVisible said...

I haven't seen the movie.But I, too, hope for the day when the Hollywood elites are invaded by those with ACTUAL military experience. Like Subrookie, I'm very tired of Hollywood's propensity to make movies with an anti-military message.

Condo said...

I do think it's true that it's the little details that gives something its authenticity, and those details must be correct.Everything has to be in sync.

Buy Me Private said...

I thank Hollywood and, even better, indie film types for sharing the stories, even if they have to jazz them up. I was in Baghdad for 13 months and back for three and I still think about it every single day.