There’s no way to watch Zero Dark Thirty without seeing it as a movie about how torture helped us catch Osama bin Laden. That’s why I was blown away when I read this morning that Bigelow is now going with a line that “depiction is not endorsement,” that simply showing torture does not amount to publicly approving of it.
If Bigelow really means that, I have a rhetorical question for her: Are audiences not supposed to cheer at the end of the film, when we get bin Laden? They cheered in the theater where I watched it. And is Maya a good character or a bad character? Did she cross some dark line in victory like Michael Corrleone, did she lose her moral self and her humanity chasing her goal like Captain Ahab, or is she just a modern-day Sherlock Holmes (or, hell, John McClane) getting his man in the end?
An amazing piece on Zero Dark Thirty by Matt Taibbi, to which he actually appended an editor’s note which said the following:
“Some wrote in and said that all Bigelow was doing was telling an “objective” story and leaving it to us to sort it out. That’s bullshit. All storytelling is a series of editorial decisions. You decide what to leave in, what to leave out. In doing so you reveal a point of view. They kept to a very narrow storyline that ended in the triumphant capture of bin Laden. The posters don’t say, “WE SOLD OUR SOULS TO GET HIM,” they read, “THE GREATEST MANHUNT IN HISTORY.” There’s no Das Boot-style shock-bummer ending where Maya steps off her transport plane and gets blown to hell.”