Why Zero Dark Thirty?

Avatar

Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

Related Post Roulette

36 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer
    Ignored
    says:

    Does this need a spoiler warning at the top?Report

  2. Avatar James Hanley
    Ignored
    says:

    “Law and Order: Special Terrorists Unit.”

    Sweet.

    And excellent review.Report

  3. Avatar Shelley
    Ignored
    says:

    A writer’s advice, if you want it:

    Just go see Promised Land instead. Let our money go to something that, while flawed, is at least worthwhile.Report

  4. Avatar Michael Drew
    Ignored
    says:

    So are you saying you’d like there to have been a movie on this broad subject matter but you’d like its whole approach to have been different? Or are you saying that you’re indifferent about whether there should have been (or even think there shouldn’t), but that if there was to be, it ought to have been made in this other way, so as to raise what you believe are the correct questions to raise about the subject matter?Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Michael Drew
      Ignored
      says:

      Something like the latter.

      In defending the movie’s amorality, Bigelow has said she didn’t want to judge one way or the other…just present things as they are–i.e. imagistically report on them.

      But, she hasn’t even successfully done that, because the kind of straightforward procedural thriller she’s presented us with isn’t even just “there.” It’s fundamentally locked into a very specific and narrow ideological and historical view.

      So I think the movie’s a wasted opportunity because its entertaining by nothing more, and in fact, potentially much less, in so far as less critical audience members will take away the wrong things from it’s indisputably distorted version of history.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Ethan Gach
        Ignored
        says:

        Any movie that tries to show real events, or events like ones that were real, is going to have an approach that is from one place or another. It’ll have one view or another. It can’t have them all, and as you say, it has to have one. But it can really, I think, only have one (even those that try to get around that problem by splintering perspective and narrative a la Syriana still I think come from just one ideological place). So I don’t think that’s a well-formed critique. And there’s no “universal perspective.” You can’t show everything, and you can’t show it all from God’s perspective.

        So I think to show this is a problem (which I’m sure you;re right that it is), you have to show not that the film has an ideological perspective (and it really doesn’t matter if Bigelow claimed it didn’t have one or not, that’s just marketing blather) – of course it does, and it should, even if it only claims to be a neutral procedural; rather, you have to show that this is in fact the wrong ideological perspecive/view/set of assumptions. If the film had a set of assumptions that better agreed with your politics, I doubt you’d be positing simply the fact that it has any ideological perspective at all as a major, debilitating problem for itself as an artwork.

        And that raises an interesting problem once you set out to do this, because any work of art, however much it related to events with profound moral valence in the real world, finally does not aspire to be taken only for whatever value it has as an essay on political morality – otherwise the filmmakers would have written an essay. Or in any case, not very many artworks aspire only to that, and fewer good ones do. So you have to decide how much whatever degree of failure as political morality essay you find in the work causes failure in the artwork to achieve its artisitic aims. And yes, to stake out this subject matter territory and then fail as political morality essay I would think will tend to be a greater part of artistic failure than a lot of other subject matter areas. But you can’t ignore the question altogether. Well, I mean, you can. You can say that art that fails your political test fails your artistic test. That’s been called Artistic Stalinism by some.

        And I’m not saying you do that, because you do create a category for this film that would have allowed it to avoid that: neutral procedural. The problem is that the criteria you give for entry there makes it a null-set category: the film would have had to eliminate its own perspective. As I say, I think that’s where your review (which I agree with Prof. Hanley is excellent)L stops short. It’s not enough to say that the film has an ideological viewpoint: for that to be a problem, you have to show why it’s defective. In other words, if you want to say that the problem with the film is that it has a defective ideological viewpoint, you gotta get in there and do it, and prove it (and, as I say, you gotta do that on artistic terms if you’re not to be accused of Artistic Stalinism). You can’t just nod to it. And the alternative you offer is also illusory: No film about all this could ever just not have politics, whether its makers claim it doesn’t is completely irrelevant. The only alternatives are to correct the artistic problems the politics present if you think the project is worth (critically) salvaging, or condemning it to the ash heap of morally doomed ideas that seemed good at the time.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
          Ignored
          says:

          …It may also be that you kind of bury the thesis statement. I can’t tell if you’re saying that the approach to torture is the whole of the ideological viewpoint defect, or if it’s a instantiation of a higher-concept problem with the film’s politics.Report

        • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Michael Drew
          Ignored
          says:

          Mike, thank you for the thoughtful and critical comment. I think there might be something in what you say, but to better see it I’ll see if I can work out a defense:

          “Any movie that tries to show real events, or events like ones that were real, is going to have an approach that is from one place or another. It’ll have one view or another. It can’t have them all, and as you say, it has to have one.”

          Whil I think a movie by default can only take *one* approach, I’m not sure that it can’t have multiple views. That is, it can be *more* or *less* open in how it deals with its own approach and the views it provides, more or less critical of them. Even if one is granted more time and more skew, there can still be elements of the work that appear to work against itself in certain ways.

          While, for instance, the Syriana’s overall ideological perspective might come from the same place (or places, since there are so many people involved from source material to final production), I think the form the movie takes, while obviously giving more weight to one set(s) of politics, certainly tries to actively subvert its own preferred ideology in different places, and/or make it so diffuse as to provoke more criticism than it eschews. ZDT is a movie that not only eschews certain criticism–it is so narrow that it rejects them from the start, keeping closed the possibility that such opposition could reasonably be raised.

          Bigelow might say that she wants people to “talk about the movie,” but that’s very different from the movie “adding” to the conversation. Anyone wanting to have an intelligent conversation about the movie will have to bring that intelligence, and a lot of outside information, themselves. Nothing in the movie encourages a critical stance, if that makes sense.

          This is why I don’t think it’s a matter of the movie having the “wrong ideological perspective,” because it’s not the movie’s surface pro torture reading that bothers me. I can imagine a movie like Zero Dark Thrity that has one character we like argue against another charater that we like, and the latter makes a great pro torture argument while the former, due to what the writer has writen for them, makes a horrible anti-torture argument. This movie, in so far as it address the issue of torture, and makes a much more convincing case for pro torture, would have an ideological view in favor of torture.

          But, it would still not be Zero Dark Thrity, because the possibility of disagreement would have been raised by a part of the movie we as an audience can identify and, to a point, empathize with. In Zero Dark Thirty, the possibility is never raised. And, per Bigelow, that is not because she intentionally wanted to make a pro torture argument, but rather because it was true to the subject matter she wanted to depict. In which case she could be argued to be ideologically neutral (in so far as we bracket her meta-views on what count as good artistic and epistemological practices, e.g. how a movie ought to be made and how a movie trying to reveal something about a real subject ought to, or at least can be made).

          The issue then isn’t that she is so ideologically one-sided, and I disagree with that ideology, but that she chose to neutrally cover specific subjects (one type of CIA op who was hunting Osama), to the point of undermining her broader “journalistic” ambitions. I would not seek to reveal something about a beach by limiting a movie I made about it to one grain of sand. What Bigelow decided to do was tell a story about a another subject by doing just that: looking at one grain (or a couple of grains) of sand.

          Now we might say that this is her artistic perogative; she can make can make a movie about whatever she wants. And that is true. But the movie is billed as being a journalistic approach to “the hunt of UBL.” She chose a the broader subject, but did not likewise choose to widen her lens enough to do in any kind of interesting or helpful way. Not interesting because a predictable thriller, no matter how well directed, is nothing new at this point. Not helpful because it contributes nothing to the subjects it covers other than to provoke those who already know about the subject to remind us of what they know.

          I think it is telling that the most interesting conversation about ZDT happened before most people had seen the movie. And that’s because the most interesting thing to talk about with regard to the movie did not require seeing it at all. And when the most interesting or important part of your film can be discussed without seeing it (which it very well can be–not least of all because it’s a psuedo-dramatic documentary) then you have a problem on your hands.

          Which is why my biggest problem with the film isn’t something in the film (like Greenwald), but the fact that so many resources were wasted on making something that is so boilerplate and devoid of seriouis artistic or cultural merit (which is different from saying that the movie is not 1. artfully constructed and 2. culturally important, in so far as it happened and people will see it and it is therefore important now–which is why I decided to see it in the first place).

          Perhaps I did not communicated it well in the post, but for being beautifully shot and thrilling to watch, the movie fails for me artistically because lots of other movies which no one need regard as serious artistic pursuits (Taken, Battleship, Bourne Identity, etc.) have done the same.

          If a chef is only, to some degree, as good as her ingrediants, than Bigelow is, to some degree, only as good as her subject matter. If she were dramatizing a Brad Thor book, I wouldn’t have a problem…but she chose to take on one of the biggest political events of my lifetime and not only completely decontexualize it, but actively resist giving mine or anyone else’s politics any *possibility* (rather than actual facetime) of existing in the universe of her film.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Ethan Gach
            Ignored
            says:

            Jane Mayer makes the same point – that the arguments were excised. I’m not sure I agree that presenting a story and saying it can be argued over is not valid, though. It’s something of a quirk if history that there was a loud argument over torture where and when it first happened. There just as easily could have been strained acquiescence. So as a matter of history, Mayer and you are quite right that the film ends up being pro-torture (perhaps even more simply, pro-CIA proaganda). But as a matter of storytelling, I’m not so sure you’re right that a work excludes or silences arguments about its content just by not putting explicit arguments about its contents in the mouths of its characters. If it happened in history that these arguments didn’t happen on the very sites depicted, I’m not sure the movie would be improved even morally, much less artistically, by writing them out and having the characters say them with actorly passion. Actually, we can be the ones to supply that part of the viewing experience.

            Now, the fact that in this case they literally occurred and were excluded changes the whole moral, and therefore artistic, calculus around that choice. it becomes basically propaganda. But I don’t think that’s a general rule, and I think that’s it something of an idiosyncratic fact about this particular history that the argument apparently happened right there, right then. It’s even possible that excluding those arguments improves the viewing experience in a way – properly reenacted, they may come across as rather trite or some such. But the fact would remain that in this instance excluding them makes the film propaganda.Report

            • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Michael Drew
              Ignored
              says:

              Yes, and I think Jane Mayer addresses the historical and political dimensions rather well.

              “But as a matter of storytelling, I’m not so sure you’re right that a work excludes or silences arguments about its content just by not putting explicit arguments about its contents in the mouths of its characters.”

              I agree with you here. I’m trying to say something much more subtle, and which is definitely above my pay grade as someone who doesn’t have a Phd in art criticism or narrative structures. I agree that just because a certain character doesn’t get up at some point and make a speech, a certain view point is being needlessly maligned and ignored. Indeed, I think one of Syriana’s major strenghts (sorry to keep going back to it) is that its able to allow the space *between* dialogue, and *between* action, to give rise to reflection and alternate interpretations.

              As a diffuse movie with no strong narrative thrust or cohesive plot, a lot of how we as an audience consume what happens on camera is less controlled. In ZDT, because it’s a fast-paced and methodical procedural, the outlines of the puzzle are always rather clear and obvioius, so as we are presented with new scenes, new information, we already know where all of it is suppose to be. These puzzle pieces we are handed already come with a shape, and their place in the larger scheme is already decided for us, both due to Bigelow’s choice of narrative form, and because as people with some knowledge of history, we also know what’s *suppose* to happen.

              With a movie like Syriana, we’re handed blurry objects and a poorly defined structure into which to place them. The result is that the multiplicity of voices and interpreations in Syriana are much greater than a movie like ZDT. And for a simple action thriller, that’s fine, but as a movie about the hunt for UBL, ZDT is, we’ve agreed, no simple action thriller.

              It’s the spaces in-between, which Syriana is committed to creating, but which ZDT is not, that I think allow for other viewpoints to be explored, and the possibility for divergent criticism to develop, even without a character explicitly making a speach about something.

              Put it another way, Syriana is much richer when it comes to developing contrary interpretations. In so far as this is a continuum, I think that ZDT is on the shallow end of the “multiplicity of interpretations” pool, while movies like Syrina (and movies like The Insider/Letters from Iwo Jima) are at the deeper end.

              In so far as ZDT is based on real events, I think it only makes it’s position more precariouis, but doesn’t fundamentally change its responsibility as a movie. It’s a controversial claim to put forth, but I would argue that when it comes to the merits of art works which are generally regarded as “serious,” multiplicity is not a perogative, but a duty.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Ethan Gach
                Ignored
                says:

                I reread after I wrote that and saw you weren’t talking about having it spelled out. As I say below, surely what you’re describing has to be seen to be understood. I’m a little skeptical, though, that there isn’t room for individual judgement of the film’s message and that it is so morally closed. Even if it in a sense rehabilitates the use of torture to make it look effective in the pursuit of bin Laden than it was in order to point up ethical questions about it (if it were rightly portrayed as ineffective, it would be easier for the audience to embrace torture’s immorality – and this blurring is the propagandistic step), I wonder what it would have to do narratively beyond that to convey that it is completely at ease with those moral premises – to make it impossible to see the work as leaving open the question of whether what was done was worth what it was done for. That’s still a slanted question, because it assumes that torture should be judged on a means-ends test, but I don’t see how it amounts to an eliminative moral monism – a zero-dimensional moral universe. But I’ll have to see it to know.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Ethan Gach
            Ignored
            says:

            …It’s still not January 11th s and I don’t live in NY or LA, so I haven’t seen the movies. Hence I probably can’t really understand what it is the movie does to make you feel that, beyond from not hearing them articulated, it completely eliminates even the possibility that other moral possibilities other than the ones presented could even exist in its universe – i.e. that somehow the knowledge and views on its subject matter that you bring to the theater can have no bearing or impact on what the film means (to you?).Report

            • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Michael Drew
              Ignored
              says:

              I’m interested to hear what you think once you’ve seen it. I was lucky in that we have a big United Artists theater near us that just happened to be showing it outside of New York and L.A before its wide release nationally.Report

  5. Avatar Diablo
    Ignored
    says:

    Sorry this is going to be tough to read. I am using google translate as much as possible.

    As a US veteran, I am not comfortable with this film. It is too easy for the film to enter the social mind of people. Our collective memory of the past is too soon. (sorry for this part. I think it makes no sense).

    We have not had enough time to collect ourselves and reflect on what has occurred. While many movies about WWII came out during and after the war, none of them implied that it was the factual truth. This film implies that the US government committed this action, in this way.

    Even if the torture was used, without thousand and thousand of man-hours to check and check again, none of the intelligence is actionable. I think of Oliver Stone’s “JFK” which is a very cool film. I am a conspiracy fan. What is interesting is that Mr. Stone made new theories to fit in the film. What I like about the film is that so many conspiracies are thrown in it. He combined many for the first time in one big theory. Now, the small theories he made to make script work are now held by many nuts on the internet. We know this movie made people think it is truth.

    Crap. All over the place. Too soon to the event. Not enough independent news people have reported on it in books and stuff. Many people will take this as truth when truth is much cloudy than this. Good fun film though.

    Side note, how bad ass to be the dude that double tapped Geronimo? No US military member got Hitler or Stalin or Castro. Some dude got to see the terror in his face before he died.

    I want to buy him a beer. And the rest of the team.Report

  6. Avatar S.M. Stirling
    Ignored
    says:

    One of the points of Bigelow’s films is that the universe is ontologically empty and “meaning”(including morality) is purely subjective, a story we make up and tell ourselves. There’s no objective way to judge between one opinion, one made-up story and another. Opinions are like the posterior orifice; we all have one, and few bear close examination.

    So dude, your politics (and anyone else’s) can’t exist in the film, because they don’t exist in the -world-. Except in your head.

    And in your head, they’re alive and well.

    You’re complaining because the film doesn’t impose the meaning you’re invested in on the film, doesn’t suggest that it’s somehow “true”. But Bigelow doesn’t do that: she just lets the world be the way it is. Empty, meaningless, and non-human.

    It’s no wonder that people react with rage and hostility… 8-).

    “Zero Dark Thirty” is all told from the viewpoint of US soldiers and spooks. It has -their- meaning in that sense.

    Torture: it’s amazing how people who usually wouldn’t believe CIA spooks, bureaucrats and politicians if they said the sun was going to rise in the East fall all over themselves accepting their word as “authoritative and final” if they say something that’s politically useful. That lawyered-up exercise in butt-covering from Feinstein et. al., for example, or the even more weasel-worded non-disclaimer (read it carefully and you’ll see what I mean) from the assistant CIA chief.

    Eg., the “torture is always ineffective” meme.

    In point of fact, as we all know (even if we refuse to say it) torture is like any other technique: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, all depending on the circumstances. It’s been used all throughout human history because skillfully employed and combined with other techniques it does work fairly often. Sometimes it fails… just like any other method.

    I could respect someone who admitted this and then said that we shouldn’t do it because it’s wrong, consequences be damned.

    But the attempted imposition of the “ineffective” meme is rather transparently based on a fear that the morally inferior sweaty bigoted masses will rush out of the film and start tearing out the toenails of some random passing Arab if they’re allowed to doubt the Sacred Meme. It’s a semi-self-confessed exercise in rhetorical dishonesty, in other words.

    Diablo: concerning conspiracies: dude, the reason people believe in conspiracies is that it’s comforting. It means someone is in charge, making things happen in a comprehensible fashion, even if it’s the bad guys. Alas, that is not so.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to S.M. Stirling
      Ignored
      says:

      An excellent comment.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to S.M. Stirling
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m trying really hard to figure out what “ontologically empty” might mean, outside of some strict logical formalism or shit like this. Though I haven’t seen Zero Dark Thirty, I can’t think of anything in any of Bigelow’s past movies that would warrant describing them in either way.

      Also, I’m not sure I can think of any reasonable theory of rhetoric or aesthetics that treats the content of a work of art or a rhetorical device (we can probably think of film as either or both at the same time) that treats the content of the work, including what it denotes, or what it refers to, or the message it is trying to convey (or convince us to believe), is all in the viewers head. If we start down that path, we reach the edge of the known world and the map only says, “There be solipsism.”

      Bigelow is neither ignorant of the context in which she is making, and her audience will be viewing, her films, nor is she ignorant of or trying to avoid the ways in which the content of her films will be interpreted within that context. If she were trying to avoid it, she’d probably make films about unicorns that sing songs about strawberries, and not films about the war in Iraq or the hunt for Bin Laden, or other such inherently political subjects. That is unless she’s a complete idiot, which I highly doubt she is.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        OK, this is totally irrelevant to the discussion, but I just went to Bigelow’s IMDB page to see if I had seen any of her films aside from “Near Dark” (which despite a sort of lame ending is awesome) and “Strange Days” (which I have only seen in part) and I discovered that she made the totally ridiculous metal-parody music video for New Order’s “Touched By The Hand Of God.”. The song’s not great but everyone should see that video once.

        You know, I realize no one but me would care, but I already typed this all out, so I am going to clickReport

      • Avatar S.M. Stirling in reply to Chris
        Ignored
        says:

        >I can’t think of anything in any of Bigelow’s past movies that would warrant describing them in either way.

        — Point Break, The Hurt Locker. Both produced the same reaction of bewildered rage in a lot of the audience.

        >If we start down that path, we reach the edge of the known world and the map only says, “There be solipsism.”

        — well, once you realize that meaning is entirely a subjective projection, something our DNA evolved our brains to perceive to make more babies, that’s the only reasonable conclusion.

        Should we pretend otherwise because it’s uncomfortable? Once we start down -that- path, we’re into “noble lie” territory, and I never liked Plato much.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to S.M. Stirling
      Ignored
      says:

      S.M. Stirling, I’ll address your comment at length because I think you misread me (I’ll also refer you to Mike Drew and I’s useful exchange above).

      “One of the points of Bigelow’s films is that the universe is ontologically empty and “meaning”(including morality) is purely subjective, a story we make up and tell ourselves.”

      In so far as you think that this is the point of her film(s), and in so far as you think she achieved this: what would be the point of that point? Is it just an experiment in cinema? If so why repeat it in each film she does? I think your suggestion here begs the question…what is the larger point behind making a film ontologically bereft of meaning?

      “So dude, your politics (and anyone else’s) can’t exist in the film, because they don’t exist in the -world-. Except in your head.”

      One of the things I’m agruing against is the de-politicization of a political event for no apparent reason. Extracting politics from the film’s subject is an artistic choice. As such, it’s one that needs to be justified. So I ask again what is the interesting result of such a choice?

      “You’re complaining because the film doesn’t impose the meaning you’re invested in on the film, doesn’t suggest that it’s somehow “true”. But Bigelow doesn’t do that: she just lets the world be the way it is. Empty, meaningless, and non-human.”

      Refer to my discussion above and in the comments about Syriana. I’m not attacking the film for not “imposing meaning.” I’m attacking the film because it does not cultivate *any* meaning (or to put it less dramatically: nearly enough). It is not that I think ZDT has the *wrong* politcs, but that it has none, yet has little to show for this sacrifice.

      ““Zero Dark Thirty” is all told from the viewpoint of US soldiers and spooks. It has -their- meaning in that sense.”

      Wait, so now the movie has meaning and sense? This is closer to what I said above, so maybe we actually agree on this. One of my points above is that she unjustifiably limits her scope to not even just US soldiers and spooks…but particular kinds of US soliders and spooks; a limited point of view within a limited point of view. This is an artistic choice not made in the service of interesting character exploration, or the sociological reportage of a documentarian, leaving me to ask again: what justifies limiting her lens to subjects which represent such a narrow band of the ideological spectrum of those involved in the larger subject?

      “Torture: it’s amazing how people who usually wouldn’t believe CIA spooks, bureaucrats and politicians if they said the sun was going to rise in the East fall all over themselves accepting their word as “authoritative and final” if they say something that’s politically useful. That lawyered-up exercise in butt-covering from Feinstein et. al., for example, or the even more weasel-worded non-disclaimer (read it carefully and you’ll see what I mean) from the assistant CIA chief.”

      You’ll notice I do not cite the sources, nor do I make the unsubstantiated claim that these people aren’t lying in this case. Rather, I make the obvious point that there was vigorous debate and disagreement at the time these events occurred, and still now, given the historical record is still so fresh and inconclusive.

      “Eg., the “torture is always ineffective” meme.”

      Not something anyone on this post has thus far claimed. Perhaps you meant for someone else to read this?

      “But the attempted imposition of the “ineffective” meme is rather transparently based on a fear that the morally inferior sweaty bigoted masses will rush out of the film and start tearing out the toenails of some random passing Arab if they’re allowed to doubt the Sacred Meme. It’s a semi-self-confessed exercise in rhetorical dishonesty, in other words.”

      Making the claim that torture is never effective is not the same as making the claim that people will leave the film more inclined to believe it is necessary in a range of circumstances, which, since the targets of torture currently are overwhelmingly Arab, would indeed mean that some people are worried that the film will create greater public silence, if not support, for the torture of dark skined peoples in lands far away.

      That is what I would point out, at least, if anyone here were making the strawmen claims your seem intent on tilting your keyboard at.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to S.M. Stirling
      Ignored
      says:

      Between the “common-sense”, “hard-nosed”, “refuse to believe that we live in a world of kittens and rainbows” assertion that of course torture works and a report that it didn’t from someone who was in a postion to know, I’m going to go with the latter.Report

  7. Avatar S.M. Stirling
    Ignored
    says:

    Incidentally, the other reason conspiracies aren’t credible is that they’re based on the supposition that it’s possible to keep secrets. Specifically, in many cases, that the US government can keep secrets.

    The US government can do many amazing things; nearly anything, if it’s really determined.

    But one thing it demonstrably -can’t- do for long no matter how hard it tries is keep anything important from leaking.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to S.M. Stirling
      Ignored
      says:

      “But one thing it demonstrably -can’t- do for long no matter how hard it tries is keep anything important from leaking.”

      Yes, but from all of the conspiracy theory related stuff I’ve seen about lately, in the age of the internet it appears that it’s pretty easy to talk yourself into believing just about anything one comes across is “leaked.” The two Obama/UN conspiracies we wrote about recently (coming to get your guns/coming to get your children) seem to be based on what people believe to be actual documents.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to S.M. Stirling
      Ignored
      says:

      Except all those legal documents justifying assasination by drone.Report

  8. Avatar Ann y Mous
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve seen the movie and I found it to be powerful. Yes, this is a movie in which people’s lives are defined by the task at hand, but so what? I would also suggest that Maya’s character may have been one single mindedly obsessed with her “mission” but she did in fact seemed real, and she did have emotional depths.
    I don’t accept the notion that movies can only speak to forgotten history, not present events. At any rate, what may seem ancient history to one person may seem very emotional and current to another. (The first few minutes of Argo felt very real and present to me, but were a history lesson to Ben Afflack who was a few years too young to watch the news during the Carter administration. Hyde Park reminded friends of mine about how worried they were about how America would or would not participate in World War II, etc.).
    As for the controversial torture scenes, a number of public officials and reports (mostly Democrats or those attached to the current administration) have said that no information obtained through torture assisted in locating Ben Laden. Others (most Republicans attached to the Bush Administration) have said that information obtained through torture did provide clues.
    If you watch the movie carefully, you will note that the torture provided virtually no information. Maya and Dan are never able to obtain the emails of suspects/dates of intended operations or “real” names of identities while torturing the suspect. They obtain a description of how the communications work, once they try a more “friendly” approach with the detainees and learn the courier’s identity from a colleague who has undertaken the very traditional task of carefully analyzing data in written reports received. They then use electronic, ground surveillance and satellite data to follow up the lead. In fact, in several scenes Maya argues to her superiors that the detainees failure to identify the courier even under pressure demonstrated how important the courier was. That comment is an admission that the “enhanced” interrogation was not effective in securing the information soughtReport

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *