How Kathryn Bigelow changed the face of cinema forever

“If there is specific resistance to women making films, I simply choose to ignore that as a barrier for two reasons: I can’t change my gender and I refuse to stop making films. “ – Catherine Bigelow

At a pivotal moment in the 82nd Academy Awards in 2009, when Barbra Streisand said the profound “the time has come”, it gave me goosebumps. It was a monumental event in the history of the Academy where a director had won the Oscar for best director for the first time. Kathryn Bigelow, in her humble and somewhat troubled speech, thanked everyone who helped her reach the milestone while we appreciated her for leading the way and shattering the misogynistic stereotypes that prevailed at the Academy. A pioneering director, she cannot be confined to a particular genre as she continues to make experimental films and overturn the stereotypes associated with films directed by women. From adventure in the world of intimate relationships to the portrayal of violence in his noir films, Bigelow’s creative vision and versatility give rise to a wide range of films that transcend a particular stylistic genre.

Shot in Jordan and with Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker facing the US military stationed in Iraq as it faced its daily trials and tribulations. He focused on a revolutionary sergeant with intense bomb-scattering abilities whose teammates disagreed with him about his bizarre way of handling problems. Beautifully shot with an omnipresent element of suspense, the film captures the atrocities of war and the conditions of soldiers while celebrating the work of the unsung heroes of the mine clearance team. Amidst intense violence, the film explores military issues as well as other important topics such as PTSD.

Bigelow’s film Strange days, written by her ex-husband James Cameron, had been severely criticized for being a business failure and a product of Cameron’s vision where the director’s voice seemed to be lacking. She took revenge by winning against Cameron in the same race and the latter was seen warmly applauding her success. Apparently he had convinced her to make the movie even when she wasn’t sure and was quoted as saying Bigelow’s movie would be “”The pack (1986) for Iraq ”.

Bigelow, an inspiration to women around the world, especially in the world of cinema, came from humble origins. Bigelow started off with a 20 minute short film The establishment where she apparently asked her actors who were fighting in the movie to engage in some real shots to add authenticity to the movie that was shot all night. His debut starred Willem Dafoe in his 1981 feature co-director The loveless, the story of an outlaw biker. Bigelow, whose eventual breakthrough came in the form of a 1991 action film Breaking point, established herself as a visionary author as she became interested in the genre of action, overturning stereotypes and delving into the politics of gender and power.

Always experimental, she confessed that she “spent quite a bit of time thinking about my skills, and I really think it’s exploring and pushing the medium. It is not about breaking gender roles or gender traditions. Despite some obstacles in the form of criticism for his film Strange days, she quickly gained ground with her most acclaimed film The Hurt Locker where her daring and daring adventure as a director helped her win numerous awards and accolades, making her the first female director to win an Oscar for her incredible work. Having faced odious and offensive comments in which her vision and the violence of her films came under heavy criticism, she constantly immersed herself in various genres and produced well-crafted works. Followed by her runaway success, she dramatized the persecution of notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden in Dark zero thirty. Despite being named for her pro-torture stance, Bigelow won the National Board of Review’s Best Director award, making her the first woman to win such an award.

Kathryn Bigelow on the set of Breaking point, 1991. (Credit: Alamy)

Bigelow’s unique visual aesthetic and visceral realization techniques set her apart from the rest of the crowd. His films serve as social commentary while dealing with violence and complex human emotions. Her images cannot be gendered; they are violent, full of suspense, captivating and usually end on a biting note. Bigelow continues to assert that she is not a feminist filmmaker because she does not want to be labeled as such. However, she often said, “There should be more female directors. I think there is just not the awareness that it is really possible “while acknowledging that” travel for women, wherever it is – politics, business, cinema – it is, it’s a long journey ”. Of course, Bigelow would certainly know because she had come a long, arduous road strewn with insults and sneers that tried to confuse her.

His films are based on extreme realism and portray the grim realities and utter hopelessness of life. To add a sense of authenticity and raw honesty to the film, Bigelow apparently kept the actors in the dark about the placement of multiple cameras during filming. The Hurt Locker. Her films challenge stereotypical perceptions and raise important questions for audiences to think about as she raises awareness of a variety of issues including torture, violence, racism, crime and more. Although Bigelow has often stated that “violence in a cinematic context can be, if treated in a certain way, very alluring,” his films are scathing comments on the realities of such violence, exposing the devastation and the despair that ensue.

Bigelow loves to add visual imagery that resonates with viewers. His love for complex filming environments, POV shots and handheld shots are easily spotted in his filmography. His stories are rocky and agonizing and manage to shatter preconceptions. What Jeremy Renner said in an interview regarding Bigelow’s vision as a director is deep and hilarious: “What does an ovary game have to do with making a movie? She sees through her eyes, not her breasts ”.

Kathryn Bigelow is fearless, indomitable and proud. Although the industry is hostile and sneering, her persistence and creative genius have helped her to shine. Bigelow rewrites a more appropriate response to the notion of society on female-directed films by transcending all boxes and reinventing the inherently male genre of crime and violence. Her films are heavily laden with socio-political critiques and relentless struggles for realism while battling the constant critiques she faces in the male-dominated industry. His deconstruction of the masculine gaze and masculinity is indeed revolutionary, unique and stimulating.

Almost a decade after her historic victory at the Academy, the shortage of female directors is just as palpable. Although she led by example by winning the Oscar, it is a shame to see her do so by telling the story of a man. As Karyn Kusama rightly pointed out: “What will be really exciting and revolutionary is when a woman wins by telling a story about women and their lives. As it stands, it’s as if the Academy doesn’t believe women’s stories are important. ”

However, one can only hope that the Academy changes its regressive mindset and recognizes the unrecognized talents of various female directors around the world. Kathryn Bigelow, with her “high impact films”, has definitely got the car going, but a long distance has to be traveled for female directors to receive the respect and appreciation they deserve. To quote Streisand once again: “It was about time”!

“I choose the material instinctively – at the heart of it are characters that I find fresh and original, and who give me the opportunity, I guess, to explore uncharted territory.”


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About Monty S. Maynard

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