Negative Whispers on Zero Dark Thirty

14 Jan

This last week the controversies surrounding Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty seemed to have become louder and louder with each nomination announcement it received. Although this may feel like a recent thing, the film has had negative whispers surrounding it since before the camera started to roll.

At first it was accused of being too pro liberal and a propaganda movie to help Obama back into the White House. When it became clear this was not the case, rather the opposite in fact (being neither pro liberal nor pro conservative nor a propaganda film), the dispute developed into numerous off shoot topics which have been increasingly talked about this last month or so. [1]

One of the off shoots was, where did this information (used in the film) come from and was it accurate? If so what were the legal ramifications? It is claimed by some that this information must have come from people who actually worked on the mission to find Osama Bin Laden, which if true, is a breach of national security and is a criminal offense. If film makers found access to those who worked on the covert operation is it possible our enemies can get hold of the information? Another argument is whether torture was used to extract information from suspects in reality. Those in power say it was not, although what former or current government would admit to such an atrocious act?! If it did happen, the next argument would be that the film makers over exaggerated it, naturally! So loud have these complaints have become has triggered a Senate investigation over the claims. The final accusation is that by having graphic torture scenes in the movie is actually an endorsement of it and that it is a successful interrogation technique. [2]

The film producers and film studio, however, disagree and that they “stand by the film”. Kathryn stated during an acceptation speech for winning two awards from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, “I thankfully want to say that I’m standing in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices.” While the movie’s script writer, Mark Boal said “It’s a movie. I’ve been saying from the beginning it’s a movie. That shouldn’t be too confusing. It’s in cinemas, and if it’s not totally obvious, a CIA agent wasn’t really an Australian [Jason Clarke] that was on a lot of TV shows, and Jessica Chastain isn’t really a CIA agent; she’s a very talented actress. But I think most American audiences understand that.” [3]

It seems like the producers are encouraging consumers to think for themselves, to interpret the film and ask the difficult questions that arises from it. Talking about these issues help us to grow and decide what we would like from the world we live in. If that was the sole intention of the film, then it has been fulfilled it as the world is talking about it! With everyone chiming in and it’s only just had its wide release, then it’s going to be a long month to the Oscars! Even after that award season the debate will continue although maybe at a quieter volume. One thing is to be certain is that Zero Dark Thirty will be picked away at until it reveals all its information, similar to its torture theme, before it is let go free.



[2] & [3]

16 Responses to “Negative Whispers on Zero Dark Thirty”

  1. parisienne January 14, 2013 at 2:12 PM #


    Great article! Do you think that Jessica Chastain’s win last night will help consumers and government officials alike to see this film in a more positive light.

  2. Open Book January 14, 2013 at 2:56 PM #


    ITA with Paris great job Oz! I really think all the negative discussion about this film is really side stepping the issue. Consumers should be given some credit. I’m glad for Chastain’s win. It was well deserved.

    • ozzie20 January 15, 2013 at 8:26 PM #

      Thank you Paris & OB! 🙂

      I haven’t seen most of the Golden Globes (I’ve only watched Adele’s win and her speech) so I don’t know if anything she said could effect the views of those who are protesting it. I do agree that consumers have a mind of their own and should be given credit it for it. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I assume the torture scenes are not presented as an endorsement for the practice of it. I think the majority of consumers know that.

      • Comic Relief January 16, 2013 at 11:19 AM #


        I really enjoyed your article too.

  3. Comic Relief January 15, 2013 at 5:29 PM #


    Do you think every film that has a socially driven point of will either provoke negative controversy or get ignored?

    The Dark Knight Rises:

    Promised Land:…0.0…1ac.1.6dD2MXjKZpg


    • ozzie20 January 15, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

      Sorry for the double post of your comment CR! I got an email to verify the videos and in trying to do so, it posted this one. I’d try and delete it but as I am so tired, I’ll do it tomorrow, as I’m scared I’ll press the wrong button and I will end up deleting all the comments! I should not attempt to do things when I’m tired, lol!

      • Comic Relief January 16, 2013 at 11:21 AM #

        I understand.

        • Comic Relief January 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM #

          Sorry I missed you last night.

  4. Comic Relief January 15, 2013 at 5:31 PM #

    Do you think every film that has a socially driven point of will either provoke negative controversy or get ignored?

    • ozzie20 January 15, 2013 at 9:15 PM #

      I think it depends on what the subject matter is. A rich kid throwing away his money while he dstroys his life isn’t going to get as much attention as torture. There are not many people in this world who have the same amount of money as Eric or his lifestyle! It’s hard to empathise with. Everyone can imagine what it’s like to be hurt. Also the fact that it is known that torture does not provide reliable information helps. I think had Cosmoplis’ story continued and told of the fiancial meltdown it would of caused, then people may get involved as we’re experiencing ression right not. I hope that makes sense but I’m sure it doesn’t lol!

      • Comic Relief January 16, 2013 at 11:44 AM #


        Despite your insecurity about your comment, I think I understand you. Ultimately I agree with you. In spite of the fact that he is the focal point of Cosmopolis, Eric almost still the villian of the movie. Yes, there really isn’t a lot about Eric to identify with yet the movie deserves some credit for it’s reach.

        Yes I agree, the recession angle might have inspired more empathy or identification. But what I think Chronenberg’s Comopolis did exceptionally well was paint a picture about alienation, isolation, and self-aborption, despite the professional successes of the lead character. Those characteristics can still be seen in many in this contemporary moment (maybe because the movie was made recently). Yes, they tell many things about the recent financial meltdown in ways news reports and documentaries can’t.

        Though entirely in a fantasy context “The Dark Knight….” covered similar territory. I think because “Promised land” discusses a rural context most won’t imediately see simarity with the prior films yet it is equally concerned with the present.

  5. Comic Relief January 15, 2013 at 5:32 PM #

    The Dark Knight Rises:

  6. Comic Relief January 15, 2013 at 5:32 PM #

    Promised Land:…0.0…1ac.1.6dD2MXjKZpg

  7. Comic Relief January 15, 2013 at 5:32 PM #


  8. Comic Relief January 16, 2013 at 11:57 AM #

    Another wide released film that tells us a lot about border realities that is frequently glossed over is “Get the Gringo.” It also suffered for not being a status quo favorite. Yet I guess we shouldn’t even be talking about the rejection so many foreign films or films about foreign locals received.

  9. Open Book January 16, 2013 at 3:08 PM #


    I like what u stated. “Zero Dark Thirty” really opens up the lines of communication about the use of torture they aren’t endorsing the practice. Today their are torture porn films that glorify it like its some recreational sport, why not complain about those films? Please, ZDT is far from that and its getting negative press. Why? Peoples priorities are all screwed up IMO.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: