How Much did the CIA “Shape” Zero Dark Thirty’s Narrative?


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, And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    My recollection is that the Maya character was meant to portray more or less an actual CIA officer. She either did or didn’t directly participate; the CIA either did or didn’t lie to Boal about that. Overall, I certainly think it complicates the artistic integrity of a project to be so involved with the subject of its portrayal (though how many times is that separation really respected in movies made about real people?), but once that Rubicon is crossed, if changes are made that move the portrayal toward historical accuracy, I prefer that to changes that move it toward inaccuracy. I certainly don’t buy that if Boal thought he was portraying a particular officer and he also wanted to try to make a more anti-torture document by having his protagonist participate in torture, but then he found out that that person did not participate, that he would have preserved his artistic integrity by not changing it to reflect that. The torture is still portrayed; if basic facts about its use had to be changed to make it look the way one wants, where’s the integrity in that? He would have preserved his artistic integrity by remaining independent from the subject of its portrayal. But that also may have produced a less meaningful movie, simply because he would have had to fill in more events just from his imagination.

    I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that the entire concept of the project was too fraught to be able to do legitimately at this date.Report

  2. Avatar Shazbot4 says:

    The whole movie is one big lie, even if it gets the details right or not.

    Here is the plot of the movie:

    The very same lady who tortured the prisoners in the War on Terror caught Osama Bin Laden with the information that she got from torturing people, mostly by herself. The lady didn’t want to do the torturing, but she did it for us, and cried a lot afterwards and therevy atoned for her actions.

    In reality:

    No such lady existed. The information from detainee torturers may or may not have been somewhat helpful as part of what helped other people catch Bin Laden. It probably wasn’t that important and the torture may have been counterproductive. The actual torturers will never be forced to atone emotionally or legally. Maybe they could care less.

    The end.

    The fact that they made one character the person who did everything in a movie is such a distortion of the truth that it ruins any reality or truth in the movie. They may have created a composite character for dramatic reasons, but it took all the truth out of the movie, regardless of why they did it.Report