Bigelow directs "Zero Dark Thirty" torture critics to Washington

LOS ANGELES Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:07pm EST

Director and producer of the movie Kathryn Bigelow waves at the premiere of ''Zero Dark Thirty''at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California December 10, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on January 11. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Director and producer of the movie Kathryn Bigelow waves at the premiere of ''Zero Dark Thirty''at the Dolby theatre in Hollywood, California December 10, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on January 11.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The director of Oscar-nominated thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" on Wednesday defended the film's depiction of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, saying criticism would better be directed at the U.S. officials who ordered such policies.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Kathryn Bigelow said she personally opposed any use of torture, but said it was a part of the decade-long hunt for the al Qaeda leader that the film could not ignore.

"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement," Bigelow wrote of criticism of the movie's torture scenes from Washington politicians, the media and human rights groups.

"I do wonder 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," said Bigelow, who won two Oscars in 2010 for her Iraq war movie "The Hurt Locker."

"Zero Dark Thirty" was nominated last week for five Academy Awards in February, including best picture, screenplay and actress for Jessica Chastain.

But Bigelow was overlooked in the directing category in a snub that many Hollywood awards watchers attributed to weeks of negative publicity over the film.

A group of senators in December chided distributor Sony Pictures in a letter, calling the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading" for suggesting torture helped the United States capture bin Laden in May 2011.

Actor David Clennon, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that selects Oscar winners, has urged fellow members not vote for the movie, accusing it of promoting torture.

However, in its first week of nationwide release, the movie topped the North American box office on Sunday, taking in $24 million.

Bigelow said her personal belief was that "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. War, obviously, isn't pretty, and we were not interested in portraying this military action as free of moral consequences."

"Bin Laden wasn't defeated by superheroes zooming down from the sky; he was defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines, who labored greatly and intently, who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death, for the defense of this nation," she concluded.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (7)
plukasiak wrote:
shame on Bigelow for attempting to finesse the real problem with Zero Dark Thirty. The problem isn’t that she depicted torture, the problem is that she depicted torture as an effective tool in the hunt for Bin Laden. If Bigelow doesn’t think that torture played a role, why bother including it in a film about the hunt for bin Laden. After all, it would be irrelevant to the movie UNLESS it were shown that torture actually interfered with the hunt — and Bigelow didn’t show us that.

The kindest thing that can be said about Bigelow at this point is that she depicted torture for purely pruient reasons — the movie needed something visceral early on keep the audience interested in the talkathon that follows until the “bunker” sequence.

Jan 16, 2013 3:48pm EST  --  Report as abuse
jimmyv wrote:
Two comments: Ms. Bigelow’s comments in the last paragraph says that Bin Laden was killed by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines. However, I vividly remember seeing Mr.Obama on national television saying HE had gotten Bin Laden; not the intelligence community, not the Navy Seals, not 1000′s of hours of waiting and watching.

Secondly: Instead of trying to blame U.S. qofficials for the use of torture, SHE NEEDS TO ACCEPT responsibility for portraying it in her film. And ANYONE who believes torture is not used by Americans is unbelievably naive. I have no doubt it is horrible, but do our spy agencies and intelligence communities use torture to glean information? HELL YES.

Jan 16, 2013 10:40pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Levendi wrote:
The political left wing and Hollywood hate everything that America stands for yet they do so by the very freedom that it provides them. They need Sharia law or a dictator to sober them up. To help them remember who brought them to the dance. Why they can make the films they make or say the things they say or do the things they do. They would be stoned or beheaded or banished to some third world jail run by a third world leader like Chavez or Castro, the monsters they praise. Or socialism or communism their romantic version of it. Ask them how man people were slaughtered by Muslims (Armenians and Greeks) or how many people were slaughtered by communism. Russia, China, Vietnam?

Jan 16, 2013 10:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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