Kathryn Bigelow Issues Statement On Torture In 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Talks Topic With David Letterman, Peter Travers & Much More

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by Charlie Schmidlin
January 17, 2013 11:03 AM
2 Comments
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Now that “Zero Dark Thirty” has gone into wide release, moviegoers finally have the opportunity to understand the film’s awards season buzz, the subsequent debates stemming from its measured depiction of U.S.-led torture, and lastly, just how egregiously wrong-headed those arguments actually are. Still, Kathryn Bigelow kept a straight face up until Oscar nominations were announced, but now she’s taken to the press circuit to make her opinions on the issue as overt as they’ve ever been.

While screenwriter Mark Boal -- thus far the main press spokesperson for the “Zero Dark Thirty” creative team -- has handled the brunt of the film’s criticism and political attacks, Bigelow has now broken her relative silence, and come forth with her views on perhaps the most pervasive and forceful of the controversies: the issue of the drama’s torture scenes within CIA black sites. Lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have labeled the film “"grossly inaccurate and misleading" from this aspect, but Bigelow herself -- in a recent, must-read statement to the LA Times -- wondered “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."

“Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement,” Bigelow explained at her op-ed’s beginning, and beyond tackling an artist’s responsibility to the material portrayed, she also commented on the real-life timeline from which she and Boal constructed their film. “Experts disagree sharply on the facts and particulars of the intelligence hunt, and doubtlessly that debate will continue,” she said. “As for what I personally believe, which has been the subject of inquiries, accusations and speculation, 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."

That insistence stays consistent throughout all of the director’s appearances, whether talking with David Letterman or a peculiarly exuberant Peter Travers, and in a generous world, her comments would initiate a decline in the contradictory backlash. That prospect seems none too likely however, so check out Bigelow’s interviews below while the storm blows over, as well as a new CIA featurette, clip and Oscar TV spot for the film.

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2 Comments

  • Bob Roberts | January 17, 2013 4:37 PMReply

    Why can't film people wrap their heads around politics? ZDT clearly makes the claim that torture lead to Bin Laden. People want to whitewash and say "ohhhh not really." LOOK AT THE MOVIE. It clearly does! I'm a huuuuugee film buff but that doesn't stop me from dropping this silly pretense of "anything is allowed in art". I can criticize Katheryn Bigelow, it's not that big a deal. I love Point Break! But Zero Dark Thirty is a piece of nonfactual propaganda. Let's just call a spade a spade. So your "how egregiously wrong-headed those arguments actually are" is completely wrong-headed itself. ZDT is a gross movie. It's o.k. to say so.

  • Jen | January 17, 2013 1:57 PMReply

    Can we talk about how mark boal basically copy & pasted parts of the hbo movie strip search in this movie? Seems like a discussion worth having .

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