Kathryn Bigelow's new film, Zero Dark Thirty, has rightly sparked controversy over its treatment of torture. The film charts the United States' hunt for Osama bin Laden, from the 9/11 attacks until his killing by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.
While the film does not explicitly condone torture, it suggests that torture played an important role in the US effort to track down bin Laden and gives short shrift to the moral and legal issues that surround it. A protest from Washington and the CIA against Zero Dark Thirty is largely centered around one controversy: whether or not waterboarding or any other physically and mentally coercive interrogation technique used by the CIA had succeeded in procuring information leading to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. Last week, three influential US senators – Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Carl Levin (D-MI) – condemned the film in a letter to its distributor, Sony Pictures, calling it "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden"!
However, Oscar-winning director Bigelow and Mark Boal has fiercely defended the depiction of torture in their new movie following heavy criticism from several US politicians , telling Thewrap.com, "The point was to immerse the audience in this landscape, not to pretend to debate policy. Was it difficult to shoot? Yes. Do I wish (torture) was not part of that history? Yes, but it was." Screenwriter Boal adds, "The movie has been, and probably will continue to be, put in political boxes. Before we even wrote it, it was (branded) an (Barack) Obama campaign commercial, which was preposterous. And now it's pro-torture, which is preposterous… Everything we did has been misinterpreted, and continues to be. The film is clearly concerned with staying at least somewhat accurate to history. Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal consulted Navy Seals and C.I.A. members who were involved in the mission.
In August of 2011 Republican representative Peter King wrote a letter to the Department of Defense and the CIA urging an investigation into how much the Obama administration had supported Boal in his research. Christopher Rosen-the Huffington Post.
The greatest manhunt in history, a true story the whole world wants to know. A highly classified top secret mission sanctioned by the President of the United States. This is how it happened!
Zero Dark Thirty: the Hunt for Bin Laden opens Jan 11 2013 in theaters nationwide!