kathryn bigelow: the deconstruction of violence.    The Set-Up (1978), The Loveless (1982), Near Dark (1987) Blue Steel (1990), Point Break (1991), Strange Days (1995), The Weight of Water (2000), K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), The Hurt Locker (soon to screen). It's not really usual to start an article about a director by listing off all their films, but you'll soon understand why. The filmgoers amongst you will probably have seen three or four of the films on the list. They are all action, suspense, adventure, science fiction and entertainment films made in the last 20 years. They are fine examples of the commercial films know as popcorn movies. Very few of you will know that all of them have been made by director Katryn Bigelow (San Carlos, California, 1951) When we think of action movies, we automatically think that the director is a male. The blame for that is not only men's'. Those who have defended women's cinema as a matter of gender are also responsible to a certain extent. It's often easier to work under a label such as "women's", "gay-lesbo-trans" or whatever rather than compete in the general market. And we're not fools (well, maybe just a little bit...) we do know that there are some serious problems in the commercial cinema market. But that's why we are championing Katryn Bigelow here. This director has shown no complexes when it has come to making the films she likes. She doesn't blow her own trumpet but she does bring that special woman's touch to her work. She hasn't used her gender to excuse any lack of success suffered by any of her films. She's just got on with making the next film. That's the reason why we like Katryn Bigelow.
Having studied art she started work painting cinema sets. She soon became caught up in the world of film and she soon presented a project and was given a grant by The Whitney Museum to make it. After that she studied art theory and criticism at Columbia University. She also worked as a model on several publicity campaigns for the clothing company GAP at the time as well. She made the short film The Set-Up in 1978. All her future filmmaking can be seen in the 20 minutes the short lasts. In the film, two men are fighting and they used all kinds of underhand tricks and types of violence. And while this is al going on, a voice in "off" anthropologically theorises on violence.
Her first full length film was The Loveless (1982) and her first success came five years later with Near Dark (1987) that mixed vampires and westerns. Around then she married James Cameron. Many will probably think that her husband helped boost her filmmaking career. But if you really think about it, it was probably the other way round. The director of Titanic could really use his ex-wife's vision and attitude in filmmaking today. In the film Blue Steel (1990) Jamie Lee Curtis starred in this police tale. A year later she made her most famous film, Point Break (1991). FBI agent Keanu Reeves is on the tail of a surfer named Bodhy and his gang of bank-robbers who carry out their robberies wearing masks of ex-American presidents. She made the film Strange Days in 1995, a film very much bearing in mind today. It starred Angela Basset and Ralph Fiennes. The reality-fiction games we later saw in Minority Report, Matrix and the like first appeared in this science fiction thriller set in the near future. The Weight of Water (2000) was an action-less drama starring Sean Penn, Katrin Cartridge, Sarah Polley and Elizabeth Hurley. Though there is no action, violence still makes it's presence felt in a silent and painful manner. In 2002 she was commissioned K-19: The Widowmaker starring Harrison Ford. That underwater story was the last one she had made until she started filming The Hurt Locker. It is based on the script written by Playboy journalist Mark Boal and takes place in the war in Iraq. No premiere date has been set just yet but we can't wait for another dose of Miss Bigelow's violence.