Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Comparing "The Hurt Locker" to "The Green Zone"

I finally saw the movie "The Green Zone" (TGZ) on DVD a few weeks ago and could not help but compare and contrast the film with "The Hurt Locker," (THL) which I watched in the theater when it was released last year. I don't write many movie reviews, but the "The Hurt Locker" had such an effect on me that I wrote a review, which you can read here.

THL was nominated for nine Oscars and won six, including Best Picture and Best Director. The movie was well done and well acted but, as I stated in my review, was not an accurate representation of what it was like to be in Iraq. I'm not just talking about minor details. There were major errors in the representation of the soldiers and the war and this ruined the movie for me.

TGZ didn't get any Oscars and didn't make enough money to cover the expensive production costs of recreating the Iraq war in 2003. Yet, that expensive recreation made the movie for me. If you want to know what it looked like, down to the most minor detail, in the Green Zone during the first year of the war, then you should watch this movie.

The Green Zone was a collection of Saddam's palatial buildings along the Tigris River in downtown Baghdad. Inside these buildings were the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Combined, Joint Task Force 7, the political and military nerve centers of the Coalition's efforts in Iraq. The perimeter of the Green Zone was fortified with blast walls, barbed wire, sandbags, Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting vehicles and sweating, irritable and nervous American soldiers.

The rest of Baghdad (and Iraq, for that matter) was the Red Zone, known in previous wars by such names as Indian Country and No Man's Land. Personally, I breathed a sigh of relief whenever I passed the checkpoint and entered this oasis in a surrounding desert of violence. Below is a picture of me, Bede Strong and a CPA employee who's name I don't recall in the Green Zone in front of a giant bust of Saddam Hussein. This bust was one of several that were removed from atop the central Palace in the Green Zone. This picture was taken December 7, 2003 (my daughter Lindsey's birthday).

Paul Greengrass, the Director of TGZ, also directed two of the Bourne movies, as well as "Flight 93." As a fan of all those movies, and of Matt Damon, who played a Chief Warrant Officer in TGZ, I was expecting a thrilling action-adventure flick. I wasn't disappointed. Reviewers said that all the wonderful things (acting, script, cast, direction) that go into making a good movie weren't as good in TGZ as in THL.

But the Green Zone carried me back to Iraq. The Hurt Locker didn't.

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