Being a movie extra beats cleaning toilets

The Voice of America reports on a new film on the war in Iraq, The Hurt Locker, which was filmed in Jordan.

The new film from director Kathryn Bigelow captures the day-to-day life-and-death drama drawn from real experiences of a US Army bomb disposal squad in the Iraq war. Here’s a look at The Hurt Locker.

IED’s – improvised explosive devices – have been a deadly fact of life on the highways and dusty side streets of Iraq. When one is found, they call in the highly skilled volunteers of the elite EOD – explosive ordnance disposal – squad.

They don’t call it ‘the world’s most dangerous job’ for nothing. The margin for error is zero; and there is more to worry about than just the IED, with snipers and insurgents often lying in wait.

After examining the device with a remote-control robot, a member of the team suits up in protective armor and attempts to disarm the bomb.

The screenplay was written by a journalist who was embedded with a bomb disposal unit in Iraq, and the director tried to capture the constantly threatening environment as well as the physical conditions.  So they filmed in Jordan, in locations which were similar to Iraq.

“You can’t fake that amount of heat,” [co-star] Mackie says. “You can’t fake that sand. You can’t fake the people. When you are on set and all of the extras are Iraqi refugees, it really informs the movie that you’re making. When you start hearing the stories from a true perspective, not from CNN or Fox News, but from a perspective of people who were actually there, it gives you a clear viewpoint of where you are as an artist and the story you would like to tell. It was a great experience to be there.”

Another actor says the film is non-political, unlike other films about the Iraq war, which were box-office bombs. I guess now that George W. Bush is out of office it’s okay for Hollywood to admit that there are a lot of dramatic stories to be told about the war. Look at all the WWII films that are still watched today. They’re about the actual battles and the conditions of the war, not about politics.

So maybe Hollywood will make more such films. And maybe these will provide more work for Iraqi refugees. It’s surely more interesting to be a movie extra than to be unemployed or cleaning toilets in America.

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