Thursday, February 4, 2010


One of the first things I loved about "The Hurt Locker" was its title.
When I saw it almost six months ago I was fascinated by the enigma behind the way the screenwriter named it.
To be honest I never quite got what it meant; was it a locker filled with pain, or was it about a damaged locker?
Forgive me for my random grammatical/existential dilemmas but both could make sense you know? Said locker could refer to the Iraq war and how it brings pain to all involved and in the second sense it could also point out how demoralizing the war has been for the US Army.
Curiously it wasn't until today that I actually did a little research to see what this meant and to my surprise-which makes me feel kind of dumb-it's apparently a very used expression in America.

hurt locker
noun - a period of immense, inescapable physical or emotional pain.
- A figurative place where someone is said to be or will be, if they are getting or expect to be getting hurt or beaten.

It apparently also means a hangover (which takes me to some awful places in terms of could've been Oscar nominees).
So as you may know English isn't my first language and as much VH1 as I watch I'll probably never have a full grasp of American slang.
But those of you who live there, have you used the expression before? Is it as common as Google said? Why do you think Mark Boal titled his screenplay that way?


Kelsy said...

I've never heard "hurt locker" except in context to this film. I took the title to refer to that box of bombs that he kept (along with his wedding ring).

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I never heard the expression, but I'm not an American, but I had guessed at the meaning and found I was generally in the right direction. Isn't lock an expression for trapping someone? So I figured the war was like a "hurt locker": literally locking you in pain. It reminded of that saying "Why do I keep beating myself on the head with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop". Definitely, an inventive name, though.

Castor said...

I haven't heard the expression before either but it could be some military slang like Sand Box which refers to Iraq or A-Stan for Afghanistan.

Jose said...

Hmm that's odd then. If nobody else had heard it before then I wasn't so out of place feeling it was a weird name.
Isn't it amazing how a title can contribute to a film's appeal and complexity?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Forget Shakespeare, there's much to be found in a name. I firmly believe that had Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf been named something else it would not have been the successful play or film it was. Imagine Titanic with the name Planet Ice.

Luke said...

You know, I sort of took it as a military thing. As I've learned from seeing movies like Jarhead, and in this case The Hurt Locker, the American military has a jargon all its own. I seem to recall the poster for Jarhead having the tagline, "Welcome to the Suck," the "suck" being a term that I was not aware of until seeing the movie. I definitely hadn't heard the term "hurt locker" before the movie. Thanks for the enlightenment!