‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Filmmakers Defend Their Story of Osama at the D.C. Premiere

At the Washington, D.C., premiere of 'Zero Dark Thirty,' director Kathryn Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal and former Senator Chris Dodd tried to quash criticisms from lawmakers who say that the movie miscasts history.

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Lester Cohen / WireImage

Director Kathryn Bigelow and Writer/Producer Mark Boal at the "Zero Dark Thirty" Los Angeles premiere after party on Dec. 10, 2012 in Hollywood.

Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s account of the Osama bin Laden hunt, has been causing drama on Capitol Hill. The latest scene took place Tuesday at the Washington, D.C., premiere, when director Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal and former Senator Chris Dodd tried to quash criticisms from lawmakers who say that the movie miscasts history–particularly the role “enhanced interrogation techniques” played in leading to bin Laden’s death.

The film opens with scenes depicting waterboarding and ends with the Navy SEALs‘ dramatic, successful raid on a certain Pakistan compound. Last month Senators from both parties–John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin–sent a letter to acting CIA director Mike Morell requesting details about the CIA’s involvement in informing the plot, which they believe gives too much credit to such practices. Two days later, Morell posted a statement to CIA employees on the agency’s website: he said any impression that “enhanced interrogation techniques” were “the key” to finding bin Laden is false but also noted that some intelligence used to place bin Laden in Abbottobad “came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques.” His statement only led to renewed calls from the Senators for more clarity from the CIA, while many more Congresspeople offered their own moral and historical beliefs.

On Tuesday night, Bigelow emphasized the fictional bent of her practice. Taking questions on the red carpet, she repeatedly told reporters that her film is “not a documentary.” In a statement she read to the audience before the film showed, she acknowledged the “national conversation” that the film had started and emphasized that she “tried to bring this story to the screen in a faithful way.” Even so, she argued, all the relevant details spanning the decade between the 9/11 attacks and bin Laden’s death were likely known to no one. Boal doubled down on the artistic-license defense in a live Q&A with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz after the film. “The research was over there in a pile, and I had to write a screenplay, make a movie,” he said. “The goal was to capture the essence of the underlying reality.” He too said that there was no single “underlying reality” of the bin Laden story that anyone, especially people with strong political ties, would agree on.

Both are fair points: arguing about “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the role they’ve served during the “war on terror” is inevitably done without all the facts, and the larger ethical debate contains grey areas. The issue is a perennial third rail in D.C., a reality demonstrated by protestors who had gathered outside the Newseum, where the film was shown. Some were dressed as detainees, draped in orange jumpsuits with black bags over their heads and arms behind their backs; they stood silently in front of a sign that read “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Code Pink activists held a sign that read “Women say NO to torture.”

When Dodd, now head of the Motion Picture Association of America, made his case for the film, he also argued that those “bickering” should understand that Zero Dark Thirty is just a movie–one that’s really about the dedication of civil servants who doggedly tracked down the world’s most wanted man. But as he started to pontificate about the power of films to affect society at large, he inadvertently supported the critics’ case. “How many people changed their views on [HIV/AIDS] because of Philadelphia?” he said. “How many people’s views of anti-Semitism changed because some people in Hollywood made a movie called the Gentleman’s Agreement?” Legislators concerned about the film’s message are worried about a similar question: “How many people’s views of ‘enhanced techniques’ will be forever shaped by the dramatic depiction in Zero Dark Thirty?”

The precise fidelity of the film to its sources is unclear–and is likely to remain so: when Raddatz asked Boal who he spoke to when researching the plot and which parts he fictionalized, questions that the Senators are investigating too, Boal did not give specifics. And he’s not the only one holding cards to his chest. Democratic Senators on the Intelligence Committee, which Feinstein chairs, produced a 6,000-page, still-classified report on the CIA interrogation program that the panel voted 9-6 to adopt last month.

In his statement, Morell said that the “CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.” Others familiar with the CIA interrogation program have said that the reality “bore little resemblance to what is shown on the screen.” Americans do get their impressions of what the CIA is like from films, and the opening scenes of Zero Dark Thirty unfold after a note informing viewers that the story is based on first-hand accounts. Still, most moviegoers also know that “based on a true story” accounts must be taken with the many grains of salt in their tub of popcorn.

262 comments
jb1111
jb1111

 So now, Feinstein and McCain should just change their last names to "McCarthy".


Hello 1950 !!!

MichaelThomas
MichaelThomas


The movie was based on a COMPLETE LIE. They
conveniently changed the story of how he died DOZENS of times. Then they conveniently take his body to a ship, were the crew has no
memory of seal team 6 bringing the body or dumping it overboard. There is no such thing as an Islamic Burial at sea.
The deceased are to be buried within 24 hours, in the GROUND!!!.

Just so happens, that ANY PHOTOS that may have came from the scene are PHOTOSHOPPED, and prove to be fakes with older
photo's of Osama with blood photoshopped in.


Then, the ALL of SEAL TEAM 6, just happen to get put on a OLD Chinook helicopter and BLOWN UP, while on base, THEN the
military says “OH, terrorist must have sneaked on a HIGHLY SECURE BASE, and planted a bomb on the helicopter.: The terrorist had no
clue when or what the seal team was going to be flying on.

SO NO BODY, NO REAL PHOTOS, NO WITNESSES. HMMM. And the white house PHOTO OPP of Obama and his lap dogs looking at video of the live feed during the so called attack, turned out to be JUST A PHOTO UP. There was no Feed coming in during the whole process, and Hillery faked her gasp, then latter said she was just covering her mouth because of allergies.

 It is a FACT that there was a Duplicate North Carolina mock-up of Osama bin Laden’s compound SEE HERE..
Satellite Images Appear to Show US Bin Laden Op Training Ground

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/10/satellite-images-appear-to-show-us-bin-laden-op-training-ground/

That is were they actually filmed the stunt, BUT there was to many American aircraft flying in the
background to use the film. That is also were the crashed helicopter was hit the wall during trial scenes. So they used it anyways as part of the film. FUNNY how they have photos of the Compound and crashed helicopter, but none of Osama, and they say “Oh, the Islamist would be angry if we showed the photo's” Really? You mean the same people that see blood shed every day and get ten of thousands of themselves bombed by our drones every day? You mean those people?. So if they are not mad now, then a photo of a dead man will make them mad? WOW.


THEY THINK YOU ARE SOOO STUPID.

The WHOLE THING was a fake, a fraud, staged POLITICAL
STUNT.




Sixgojojo
Sixgojojo

What did the critics think of the movie RENDITION?


Did that more properly depict what the CIA does?

catherine1312
catherine1312

Quite a nice touch having a women direct,  produce and star in this war propaganda movie. Yes, Bigelow and her antique cameras do make explosions look like art but she sold out for fame. .Although, I find the movie to be an American tragedy. Ten years, billions of dollars, thousands of dead Americans, hundreds of thousand dead Iraqis and Afghans, human rights violations to find one sickly man. Go USA #1 LMAO

mcreadyblue
mcreadyblue

Any movie that glorifies torture is ok in my book.

I just hope we get to start using rendition here in America to deal with all of the criminals on Wall $treet.

NeoSmith
NeoSmith

Eh.  I thought the movie was too bland.  It couldn't decide if it wanted to be a documentary or an action film.  Straddling the middle is what made the movie an average film.  Restrepo was a decent B movie.  The Hurt Locker was a fantastic A movie.  This movie would rate a C.  Far too much talk about an average movie.

PhilRidge
PhilRidge

I love protesters. They get to put on public pity parties and enjoy their safe little soapbox and sense of superiority, all while never having had that "poor, helpless" detainee trying to gun them down in the stinking streets or blow them in two with crude roadside bombs. They want to protest the "inhuman"treatment of these people, but they didn't have to watch the guy kill three of their buddies, either. I think you "protesters" should read some books written by the soldiers who lived it so you can see how evil these "people" you pity really are. I don't give one good g_ddamm if any of them were waterboarded. I hope they were terrified for their lives.

JasonPerrone
JasonPerrone

It should be illegal to do movies based on historic events that are not 100% true. Too many people get their "facts" from such films.

JustAFan
JustAFan

It's just another hoollywood movie, it's not the truth.

JoeWojoJr
JoeWojoJr

Hey   President Bush cited the success of the techniques in "24" by Jack Bauer. How much more proof do you need that such tactics work!!!!

Gerg
Gerg

Artistic license is one thing, but portraying or over-emphasizing an act or action is careless and cavilier and may smack somewhat of a political agenda.  That said, really who cares if torture was used.  However, this skewed depiction of the facts just goes to cement further, and deepen more, the prejudices and hate of those who oppose our culture.  So yes, even with freedom of speech, "artisitc license" included, we all have a responsibility to protect our right of free speech by acting responsibly with that right.

m.chase.c5
m.chase.c5

How many people changed their view of how John F Kennedy died because of Oliver Stone's JFK. The answer: more than a few. But that's beside the point, do the people who will see this film care if torture was used? No.

akluc118
akluc118

The same people yelling about these so called "enhanced techniques" are the same people who would be blaming the CIA, FBI, and Federal Government for not doing enough to protect us if another terror plot were to succeed. Sometimes in order to protect our way of life and society from the very evil people around the world we must fight fire with fire. You can say we should be better than that and not sink to that level all you want but in the end, in order to protect the freedoms we all enjoy it is sometimes what is necessary may not be popular in the media, but it is still necessary...

JasonKanarr
JasonKanarr

I CANNOT wait to see this movie. I spent 8 years in the US ARMY as a 19K, M1A2 Abrams Tanker... I was released off Active Duty Feb.2003 after my 2nd hernia repair, or I'd just about be Retired by now... I was HONORED to be able to Deploy with my Brothers and Sisters in Arms after the Attack...

MarlaHooch1
MarlaHooch1

I think some people on the right want to say "No Waterboarding = No Bin Laden" (wrong), while some on the left apparently want to pretend waterboarding and EITs never happened (also wrong).

I've read more than my share on this subject over the years as well as all the books and documentaries since the raid. The article is correct that truly nobody knows 100% of what led to Bin Laden. But the movie is as close as you're going to get. If there's "classified information" in the movie, well, I certainly didn't learn anything new, and I'm just merely interested in the subject.

wth?
wth?

I really wish the movie showed what *really* happened. 

We held the terrorist down and waterboarded him, until he screamed "Baggins!" "Shire!" Then we sent out our covert ops to get the job done.

Mikeinnc
Mikeinnc

Once all the team gets off active duty, I hope a producer will hire them to make the realistic movie about the killing of Osama.

Mikeinnc
Mikeinnc

You liberals act as if waterboarding is such a bad thing.  Why don't you whine when al qeada pushes an American onto his side and starts cutting his head off and holding it up for the camera.  Go watch the Nicholas Bergman video and then tell me how bad waterboarding is!

allen.treviranus
allen.treviranus

a woman directs a movie about seal team 6?  wow thats ironic.  I think ill pass.

hanrod1
hanrod1

It's funny, but most tiresome, to read the lengthy and seemingly interminable exchanges between a few of you here on this issue, debating what each other said or means to say, but not getting to the substance. Forget about whether or not "torture" or "enhanced interrogation" is effective, useful, only marginally so, or not at all. The DEFINITION, LEGALITY and MORALITY of "torture" AND "enhanced interrogation" are the only questions, once it is determined, or agreed, that some entity has used the processes for which definition is sought.

The most interesting, AND ACTUALLY A "DEFINING", question is: WHEN "enhanced interrogation" (including waterboarding, whether defined as torture or not) is even considered, WHY IS IT CONSIDERED FOR USE, when normal interrogation meeting our own  civilian legal standards, is deemed ineffective or insufficient? Yes, whatever you CALL it, WHY use it? Answering that question requires the answer that it may work better than normal interrogation because it PHYSICALLY HURTS, or GREATLY AND IMMEDIATELY FRIGHTENS, or BOTH. Whether in one of our police stations, or in our CIA "black sites", if it does this it is FORBIDDEN, IMMORAL and PROSPECTIVELY CRIMINAL, however effective it may be, or not be.  

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Guys, this isn't rocket science.  Just flag his posts, every single one, for being offensive and insulting (as they so often are).  How long do you think he'll be allowed to post here with 5-10 flags attached to each of his posts?

jb1111
jb1111

@MichaelThomas  

It's called a "Movie", Mikey !!


No one said it was Journalism.


Get over it.

jb1111
jb1111

@PhilRidge  

The Marines and Navy Seals, etc. call these people "sheep", Phil !!!

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@PhilRidge 

I think we should have standards of law and warfare that our country should abide by (which we have already signed).  I think it's unconscionable and incorrigible to encourage torturing prisoners of war, because it sends the message it's OK to do it to our troops too.  Do we need or want to act like the people we're fighting?  We're better than that.

prothall
prothall

@PhilRidge Maybe if they actually took part in serving and protecting their rights and freedoms it might help curb some of this nonsense.  It's easy to stand way behind someone where it's safe and criticize their actions. 

prothall
prothall

@JasonPerrone So we should make a type of movie illegal because a large portion of our population is ignorant?  If it is not a documentary then the implication is, it is in part or in whole not true.  Even documentaries are not always "true" they are colored by those who pay for and make the film.  It's sad to think you and so many others seem willing to throw away your rights (think 1st amendment) so the state can protect you from yourselves.  Grow up, take responsibility for yourself.

mcreadyblue
mcreadyblue

There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.

-- GW Bush

jb1111
jb1111

@Gerg 

Then go see a Disney Movie next time, Greg.

HosagiMatissmoTaishou
HosagiMatissmoTaishou

@akluc118 information gathered through torture is NEVER accurate the prisoner will say anything to get the pain to stop. The fact that you cant see this proves how naive you are.

mcreadyblue
mcreadyblue

Bin Ladin was found a mile from Pakistani Intelligence HDQ.

Plenty of people knew where he was.

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@DonQuixotic Translation: We lacked the intelligence to debate Groenhagen, so let's be weenies and get him banned from Swampland. After all, silencing others is what we socialists do best."

PhilRidge
PhilRidge

@prothall @PhilRidge Indeed. I didn't serve either, but my brother, father, his father before him, etc. did. I've come to understand through the experiences of others what hell they go through. Those protesters wouldn't last a day before they cried for their mommies. The first time a "bumblebee" whizzes by their head, they'd crap their pants.

JasonPerrone
JasonPerrone

@prothall @JasonPerrone  It is simply irresponsible for people to create films which masquerade as the truth. We used to call it "lying". Look it up.

jb1111
jb1111

@mcreadyblue  

Just another Blind Cult of Personality Follower, mcready ??


WIKI it.

Mikeinnc
Mikeinnc

Paul, Have you served a day in the military paul?  I can tell you when a American military team is hit and one of their brothers is killed in a horrific way, the remaining team members, righteously so, want payback.  When you have gone through something like that, then post here!

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic 

Flagging offensive, insulting posts is our responsibility.  We'll have rational and intelligent debates with you when you stop acting like a raving, self absorbed tool.

mcreadyblue
mcreadyblue

I agree, most women can't stand a single day of torture and rape.

prothall
prothall

@JasonPerrone @prothall But they are not masquerading as truth it is clearly stated such films are "based on actual events" but everyone knows or should know it is still a work of fiction.  As far a "lying" goes, you are lied to everyday by your government, politicians, advertisers, employers... the list is endless.  It's up to us as individuals to discern the truth of things for ourselves.  Giving up your rights and letting the government control what you see and hear is not the answer.  They already do that enough.  Read up on your history from books not published for public education

danangdan
danangdan

You are a fraud and idiot. There is a reason such tactics have been used together with other measures  for thousands of years. They work.

danangdan
danangdan

You are a fraud and an idiot. There is a reason that such techniques have been engaged in for over a thousand years. They work.

akluc118
akluc118

@HosagiMatissmoTaishou @akluc118 Not all intel is gathered at the point of torture, they are not captured and thrown in a tank of water. I'm not saying torture is the answer, I don't know how they use it or when they use it (I doubt you do either) all I'm saying is if they deem it necessary then I have no problem with them doing what is necessary to keep you, I, our soldiers, and everyone else as safe as we can be.

HosagiMatissmoTaishou
HosagiMatissmoTaishou

@akluc118 @HosagiMatissmoTaishou I know of every major torture style out there: water boarding, chinese water torture, chinese pressure torture, electircity, vladd's water dungeon, they all amount to the same thing inaccurate intel because the prisoner will do anything to make the pain stop. Keep living in that fantasy world where everyone tells accurate info while in pain maybe one day your fantasy world will come true.

akluc118
akluc118

@HosagiMatissmoTaishou @akluc118 You really believe it is that black and white what techniques they use to gather information??? Hit them with a stick and dunk their head in water and demand answers?? No, there are ways to determine whether a person knows something or not.

HosagiMatissmoTaishou
HosagiMatissmoTaishou

@akluc118 @HosagiMatissmoTaishou Hypothetical Situation: If I hit you with a stick demanding the location of a cache of weapons that you repeatedly tell me you have no info on how long before you tell me to stop to give me that info? The point is you would tell me to stop and give me the info i asked for even if you never saw the cache of weapons to begin with. Why? Because you would do anything and i do mean anything to make the pain stop. 

Mikeinnc
Mikeinnc

Don, I do not believe in a police state and I bet you are one of the people demanding guns be banned.  I think you want a police state because you were trying to get others on this site to flag someone just because they had a different opinion than you!

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@Mikeinnc 

Why does it even matter?  We're civilians that pay our taxes, we can judge the military all we want.  Do you believe in a police state?

KevinGroenhagen
KevinGroenhagen

@JohnWoods @KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic That's called projection, Skippy. Tell you, what. The next time you're in my area, stop by and call my wife a mail-order bride to my face (as you have here while hiding behind a tree). We'll see how I would react to your racist comment.

JohnWoods
JohnWoods

 @KevinGroenhagen @DonQuixotic Just read your most recent comment, Groener; no wonder everyone wants to flag you.  You're an obnoxious punk who clearly wouldn't say any of these things if you actually had to say them to anyone's face.  Talk about cowardice.