Kathryn Bigelow Interviews edited by Peter Keough (book review).

To look at the title, ‘Kathryn Bigelow Interviews’, you would think that this Peter Keough edited book is just that. Actually, it is a collection of 38 articles and interviews from different magazine sources that cover director Kathryn Bigelow’s film life from 1987-2011. On top of that, at the beginning of her career, she was part of an interview team, interviewing other directors that Keough says showed her points of interest.


I selected this book because I wanted to find out more about her films, ‘Near Dark’ (1987) and ‘Strange Days’ (1995) as these fall heavily into our geek arena. However, although ‘Strange Days’ was viewed as a failure and gets discussed there is little analysis of ‘Near Dark’. Did all the writers of the period ignore the vampire western? Considering that this film got her well and truly on the map, it seems weird by its lack of coverage here. I should point out that Keough does include a Bigelow history and filmography, which also includes her TV directing.

Obviously, her Oscar winning ‘The Hurt Locker’ (2010) gets the most coverage and the insights about ‘Blue Steel’ (1989) and ‘K12: The Widowmaker’ (2002) are two films I’ve missed out and now have become interested in looking at. Oddly, I can’t remember when they were shown on British TV last.

The articles give insight into her film directing process and some comments from the various cast and production crew. She also has a distinction for wanting more blood in her films, which is usually a comment made by horror film directors. The interviews, unsurprisingly, look at how the lady director does action films who doesn’t like using the Hollywood studio system and getting independent finance, believing setting is everything. After all, ‘The Hurt Locker’ was filmed in Jordan because it most looked like Iraq. Bigelow doesn’t like to do films in a cuddly way.

Probably the most telling interview was with Bigelow with her then husband, Jim Cameron, discussing their films from the point of filming under different extremes and actors. Bigelow is often in situations where she can only do one take so ensures enough coverage so anything can be resolved in editing, a process she also enjoys. Her later descriptions of how much footage is taken is quite an eye-opener.

Keough admits to removing some repetition although it does come out more in the article pieces than the interviews. Even so, there is enough variety to build up a picture of Bigelow’s film career from their perspective and then enhanced by her interviews. There aren’t that many lady film directors and the number doing action films even lower, so it’s no wonder that the press tend to look at Bigelow from that angle and she takes it mostly in good spirits.

You will come away from this book with a great deal more insight into Kathryn Bigelow and the film process after reading which is no bad thing. She might also inspire more women to take on the director’s chair.

GF Willmetts

July 2016

(pub: University Press Of Mississippi. 247 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: £20.95 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-4968-0458-7)

check out websites: http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/ and www.eurospanbookstore.com

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