Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Cannes Review: Denis Villeneuve's 'Sicario' Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin And Benicio Del Toro Cannes Review: Denis Villeneuve's 'Sicario' Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin And Benicio Del Toro George Miller Says He Courted Heath Ledger To Lead 'Mad Max' In 2006, Reveals Title For 'Fury Road' Sequel George Miller Says He Courted Heath Ledger To Lead 'Mad Max' In 2006, Reveals Title For 'Fury Road' Sequel Watch: Michael Fassbender Takes The Stage In First Trailer For 'Steve Jobs' Watch: Michael Fassbender Takes The Stage In First Trailer For 'Steve Jobs' Cannes Review: Todd Haynes' 'Carol' Starring Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara Cannes Review: Todd Haynes' 'Carol' Starring Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara Cannes Review: Gus Van Sant's 'The Sea Of Trees' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe & Naomi Watts Cannes Review: Gus Van Sant's 'The Sea Of Trees' Starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe & Naomi Watts Cannes Review: Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone And Parker Posey Cannes Review: Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone And Parker Posey Simon Pegg Reveals Daniel Craig's Role In 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Simon Pegg Reveals Daniel Craig's Role In 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Cannes Review: Yorgos Lanthimos' Outstanding 'The Lobster' Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz & John C Reilly Cannes Review: Yorgos Lanthimos' Outstanding 'The Lobster' Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz & John C Reilly Watch: Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard In The Intense First Clip For ‘Macbeth’ Watch: Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard In The Intense First Clip For ‘Macbeth’ George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Declassified Documents Reveal How The CIA Influenced The Script & Story Of 'Zero Dark Thirty'

The Playlist By Charlie Schmidlin | The Playlist May 7, 2013 at 9:39AM

Just when Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal might have thought it appropriate to move on from “Zero Dark Thirty” to whatever tense nail-biter comes next, the acclaimed actioner-drama's much-publicized production has resurfaced yet again - this time going back to the film's beginnings, as Boal was in conversation with the CIA over crucial details.
4
Zero Dark Thirty Jessica Chastain Mark Strong

Just when Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal might have thought it appropriate to move on from “Zero Dark Thirty” to whatever tense nail-biter comes next, the acclaimed actioner-drama's much-publicized production has resurfaced yet again - this time going back to the film's beginnings, as Boal was in conversation with the CIA over crucial details.

It's well known that the filmmakers' exchanges with CIA officials were mostly cordial -- even somewhat star-struck - and to do with specifics for the film's timeline, such as floor schematics accurate to Osama Bin Laden's hideout. But a new series of declassified memos (via Gawker) have revealed some sway on Boal's part, as he bowed to CIA requests to remove objectionable portions of the screenplay. Revealed in a bundle of information just released under a Freedom of Information Act request, the 2012 memo summarizes five conference calls between Boal and the CIA's Office of Public Affairs at the tail end of 2011, calls intended to “help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Laden operation."

These include the opening scene of “Zero Dark Thirty,” which finds Maya (Jessica Chastain) coming into a CIA black site interrogation run by Jason Clarke's character. From the memo, apparently Maya was initially involved in the torture rather than just observing - a point which the CIA felt to be untrue. The memo reads, "For this scene we emphasized that substantive debriefers [i.e. Maya] did not administer [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques],” and then later reads, “Boal said he would fix this.”

Other examples of original scenes taken out include interrogation tactics with dogs and a massive party scene set in Islamabad, but there are some, like Maya's analysis of detainee interviews to track down Osama bin Laden's courier, that remained under pressure. Boal replied to the memo's release shortly after the article was published, saying, “We honored certain requests to keep operational details and the identity of the participants confidential. But as with any publication or work of art, the final decisions as to the content were made by the filmmakers.”

So nothing nefarious in the CIA dealings or the within the ranks of Bigelow and Boal - simply a record of the reciprocal exchange of information that resulted in Bigelow's award-winning film. The director has laid down the cinematic interpretation of these events that many will follow to be true; as these memos continue to show, it must be considered as a work of art first and foremost.

This article is related to: Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates