Monday, 28 January 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

So I went to see this film on Saturday night, not because I had any prior interest in it - I haven't been taking notice of what gets released at the cinema for ages now - but because my friend asked me to go and see it.

I said yes without even knowing what it was, and when she told me it was something about the U.S. in Afghanistan, I immediately suspected it would be another lefty, anti-American propaganda film. I was very pleasantly surprised - not only to find that it wasn't but also to find that neither did it have any discernible right-wing slant to it: the film-makers seem to have decided to make a properly realistic film, i.e. trying to present the story of the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden without trying to Chomsky the audience.

And I think that, in addition to that plus point, it was a good film. The climatic scene dipicting the attack on the house in Abottabad was excellent - it showed a very good understanding of the sublime because in addition to the stealthed-up whirlybirds hugging the mountain terrain in night flight and the background music swells, the preceding sections of the film had left so much weight of judgement up to the viewer. And this was the build-up scene to the execution of judgement, and of course the literal execution of Osama bin Laden.

The early scenes in the film showing the CIA's torture methods (water-torture, and squashing the detainee into a cramped box etc...) were presented without approval, condemnation, or apology. They were just there and it was left up to the viewer to make up his or her own mind. In my case I already knew my own mind on the issue.

Yet now I read (courtesy of M.J. Totten at City Journal), that "activists" in the U.S. are kicking up a fuss because, as Totten puts it:
"Bigelow’s critics didn’t want art, nor were they interested in a journalistic account. They wanted a cinematic op-ed piece and didn’t get it."

They remind me of certain people who will not debate, who will not try to argue and demonstrate right or wrong, but who are only interested in shutting up people who disagree with them either through ostricization or outright bullshit.


  1. Mike, while I know about the movie, I've not read a review until yours. I think I'll have to go see it. Thanks for writing up your thoughts.

  2. Your welcome John - it's pretty good. One thing I probably should have mentioned though is that it's still a dramatic film rather than a documentary as such. Much of the action is presented through the life and emotions of the main character, a CIA agent.

  3. One thing I probably should have mentioned though is that it's still a dramatic film rather than a documentary as such.

    Mike, I don't think it really was necessary for you to mention that. It's a Hollywood production, after all, and Hollywood does not have a reputation of historical accuracy.


Comment moderation is now in place, as of April 2012. Rules:

1) Be aware that your right to say what you want is circumscribed by my right of ownership here.

2) Make your comments relevant to the post to which they are attached.

3) Be careful what you presume: always be prepared to evince your point with logic and/or facts.

4) Do not transgress Blogger's rules regarding content, i.e. do not express hatred for other people on account of their ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation or nationality.

5) Remember that only the best are prepared to concede, and only the worst are prepared to smear.