Embodiment in the war film: Paradise Now and The Hurt Locker

Robert James Burgoyne

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In this article I compare two recent films that foreground the body at risk in the new wars of the twenty-first century. Paradise Now (Abu-Assad, 2005) and The Hurt Locker (Bigelow, 2008) convey the subject of the body in war from what would seem to be opposing perspectives, the first representing the experience of a resistance fighter, a suicide bomber in present-day Palestine, and the latter rendering the perceptions of a US soldier, the leader of a bomb disposal squad in Iraq. Seeming opposites, antitheses of each other, the two protagonists and the two films can be set face to face in a way that brings the changing nature of modern war into frame. No longer defined by the ideology of total war that shaped the grand narratives of twentieth-century combat, the new imagery of war and resistance, of insurgency and counter-insurgency, is crystallized here in a new symbolic iteration of the body at risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-19
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of War & Culture Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2012


  • Suicide bombing
  • Combat films
  • Embodiment
  • Post-heroic war
  • War films
  • Body at risk


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