It seems like “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow has spent as much time defending her Oscar-nominated film as she has promoting it. Even before the movie hit theaters, “Zero Dark Thirty” earned criticism for its alleged glorification of torture and implication that “enhanced interrogation techniques” helped provide the key information needed to find Osama bin Laden.
Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein slammed the movie for its depiction of waterboarding, Acting CIA Director Michael Morell released a statement claiming “Zero Dark Thirty” is “not a realistic portrayal of the facts” and many critics condemned the film for its use of torture scenes. In response, star Jessica Chastain, Sony Pictures’ Amy Pascal and Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have all defended the project against those who denounce it.
Bigelow has now taken that defense one step father by writing an open letter in The Los Angeles Times where she seeks to clarify her intentions with the movie. She writes that “those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement,” and says that she’s been “a lifelong pacifist” who supports “all protests against the use of torture.”
“But I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen,” Bigelow writes. “Indeed, I’m very proud to be part of a Hollywood community that has made searing war films part of its cinematic tradition. Clearly, none of those films would have been possible if directors from other eras had shied away from depicting the harsh realities of combat.”
She adds, “On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices. … I think Osama bin Laden was found due to ingenious detective work. Torture was, however, as we all know, employed in the early years of the hunt. That doesn’t mean it was the key to finding Bin Laden. It means it is a part of the story we couldn’t ignore.”
Bigelow’s conclusion: “Bin Laden wasn’t defeated by superheroes zooming down from the sky; he was defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines, who labored greatly and intently, who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death, for the defense of this nation.”
What is your take on this controversy, Zap2it readers?