Kathryn Bigelow - Head of CIA Objects Against Portrayal in Zero Dark Thirty

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With Zero Dark Thirty already established as one of the year’s most popular releases and drawing in the holiday crowds, a number of criticisms have arisen nonetheless.

These have been directed at the film’s factual inaccuracies and the liberties director Kathryn Bigelow has taken with the representation of the operation to find and capture Osama bin Laden. Senators John McCain, Carl Levin and Dianne Feinstein have sent a letter to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, speaking out against the film’s depiction and treatment of torture.

The latest authority to comment on this is CIA director Michael Morell, who said in a statement: “I would not normally comment on a Hollywood film, but I think it important to put Zero Dark Thirty, which deals with one of the most significant achievements in our history, into some context.” Morell goes on to object to the “strong impression” Zero Dark Thirty creates against the “strong interrogation techniques”, used in the course of the investigation, as well as the movie’s tendency to focus on “just a few individuals”, whereas the operation was actually a complex and sustained team effort, according to him.

“Importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved,” he went on to explain. The bottom line here seems to be that despite its gritty, realistic appearance, Zero Dark Thirty is not to be taken as a documentary about the events, a fact, which sophisticated audiences were no doubt already well aware of.


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