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Why Not Call it “‘Kill Bill’ Laden”: The Problem with Bigelow’s “Kill Bin Laden”

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

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.

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