Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen Christopher Nolan Says 'Interstellar' Is About "What It Means To Be A Dad”; Plus Check Out New Pics Christopher Nolan Says 'Interstellar' Is About "What It Means To Be A Dad”; Plus Check Out New Pics Paul Schrader, Nicolas Winding Refn & Nicolas Cage Campaign Against Their Film 'Dying Of The Light' Paul Schrader, Nicolas Winding Refn & Nicolas Cage Campaign Against Their Film 'Dying Of The Light' WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting Gone Girls And Gone Boys: 11 Films That Dissect Marriage Gone Girls And Gone Boys: 11 Films That Dissect Marriage Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

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