After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow’s latest could complete one of the great trilogies of our time.
Trilogies are often planned out and executed with the three-story structure in mind from the get-go. The Lord of The Rings trilogy is one example. Other trilogies bloom from the success of the debut film, think The Matrix, or the Godfather saga (The Godfather was not originally intended as a trilogy, but became one in the early 90s).
Bigelow returns to themes of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, with another story about action in the face of a nation’s adversity
Occasionally, films from certain directors become trilogies more organically, due to their subject matter and place in time in the directors’ career. Sergio Leone accomplished his own sort-of trilogy with his Clint Eastwood Man With No Name trio of films. Gus Van Sant directed three films of similar styles and messages, dealing with tragic deaths in Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days. Directors like Kurosawa, Oliver Stone, and Wim Wenders have also completed conceptual trilogies in their careers, and it appears now there is another great filmmaker finishing her own unofficial trilogy.
Kathryn Bigelow won an Oscar for The Hurt Locker, the first great Iraq War film in this Post 9/11 era. The film, about an American bomb disposal expert in the throes of mental and physical turmoil in Iraq, would also win Best Picture. Three years later, Bigelow would direct Zero Dark Thirty, a picture about the ‘unofficial’ end of the War on Terror with the (allegedly) true story about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty would go on to grab a handful of Oscar nominations, and is a fantastic thriller directly related to American ‘action’ in the years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now, Bigelow is returning to these themes, telling another story about action in the face of a nation’s adversity.
More on film: David O Russell and the art of the loose trilogy
The film is called True American, and where the previous two pictures dealt with American action in the years following 9/11 and the larger influences of government and military, this picture appears to double back on this new world. True American tells the story of Mark Stroman, a Texas man responsible for killing two Muslim immigrants in the aftermath of 9/11. Raisuddin Bhuiyan was a survivor of the hate crime, and the film will also focus on his struggles as a victim of Stroman’s shooting spree. Tom Hardy has been cast as Stroman and principal photography is set to begin soon.
With True American on the heels of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, the symmetry to the three films would have to be scope. The Hurt Locker approached the entirety of the Iraq War and its effects on American citizens sent to fight. Zero Dark Thirty focused on a certain group of government officials and their hunt for one man, the most notorious man tied to the new history of the world and the 9/11 attacks. Now, with True American, Bigelow seems to be moving even further inward, telling a story about one individual’s actions and the ripple effect it caused across the lives of innocent Muslims.
Bigelow’s post-9/11 trilogy has potential to be one of the greatest conceptual film trilogies in film history
All of Bigelow’s post-9/11 pictures deal with action in one way or another, action surrounding a post-9/11 landscape of anger, fear, and frustration. The very essence of The Hurt Locker, and of Jeremy Renner’s electrifying performance, was frustration. He was a man lost without the war, an adrenaline junkie who could not find his way back in society once he got a taste for combat. Zero Dark Thirty told the uphill climb in the face of adversity, and the endless frustrations and roadblocks of Jessica Chastain’s lead. True American will approach much more intimate, base frustrations in the weeks, months, and years after 9/11.
Bigelow’s post-9/11 trilogy has potential to be one of the greatest conceptual film trilogies in film history, given the prestige and honours the first two films collected. True American, however, comes with its own challenges. This is a much smaller, more intimate tale, and the events happened several years before The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. The distance between these hate crimes and the present construction of America might pose certain challenges for Bigelow’s film. That being said, Bigelow teaming up with Tom Hardy should make for a compelling drama, regardless of the current distance between the true story, its relevance in today’s world, and the impact the story has in relation to the previous two, larger stories.
A look at another unofficial trio: Lars von Trier’s depression trilogy
Featured image: Optimum Releasing
Inset image: Universal