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Kathryn Bigelow and CBS News, “It’s a Movie, not a Documentary.”

Bigelow talks torture with Charlie Rose but also talks about her Oscar snub.

The only way around the controversy is to remind people that Zero Dark Thirty is a movie, an interpretation of history, a version of the story – someday the truth will come out but for now, this is the story that their sources gave them. It was probably the wrong choice to say it was history because there are many different interpretations of that history and those different versions are what is at the heart of the controversy. Many people wrongly assume that the complaints about the film are that it shows graphic scenes of torture, therefore it endorses torture. Charlie Rose in this clip asks Kathryn Bigelow to answer the question: did torture lead to finding Bin Laden. It’s a tough question to ask but it isn’t really her job to answer it. She made the film based on first hand accounts of the story.

The best way to discuss it is as a work of art, a statement on war, not as a literal interpretation of history.  However, everyone has learned so much more about history, about torture, and about finding Bin Laden than many of us knew before.  That is the power of art.

27 Comments on this Post

  1. So classy and gracious. I would love to see any one of the AMPAS detractors voice their “opinion” to Bigelow’s face.

  2. Filipe Mourão

    In spite of any controversy, I think it’s a perfect masterpiece, anyway.

  3. jtagliere

    Was a little surprised to see her acknowledge in this interview and others that the controversy and her having won three years ago were the main culprits fir her lack of a nomination (I personally think Picture/Director should be nominted together). She did look hurt by it. Is she still an Academy governor for the director’s branch?

  4. joeyhegele

    http://www.time.com/time/covers/europe/0,16641,20130204,00.html

    Kathryn Bigelow may not have been nominated for an Oscar, but she is the only director anyone seems to be really talking about right now.

  5. ZDT has made close to 60M domestically. That is truly astounding. Also, what I find astounding is the harsh attack on Bigelow personally for making this film. WHY should she have to go on TV and publicly defend her right to make a FICTIONAL movie about events???? I think it boils down to her being a woman. Period.
    You do not see the press going after Affleck for Argo and if that movie was factual or not.
    Such a fucking double standard here… If I was Bigelow I would be like FUCK the people who are stupid enough to assume that this is dramatization of the FACTS. We know that torture went on… we know that from CIA documents. For the CIA to try to shut her down is sexist.

    Anyway, she is laughing all the way to the bank.
    I think 60M is amazing.

  6. rolotomasi99

    What really angers me about the attacks on Zero Dark Thirty is how no one is saying anything about the horrifically violent and morally vile Django Unchained.

    If you believe killing people in cold blood is morally wrong — and I would think most Academy members do — then you must be disgusted with how Django Unchained seems to justify the mass executions of many, many people. Some of the deaths are done in self-defense, but several of them, like Calvin Candie’s sister, are just straight up murders. The so-called heroes of the movie kill several people without even trying to take them into custody for trial.

    I thought liberal Hollywood was against executing people. Why is it suddenly acceptable to have a movie turn trial-less executions into a crowd-pleasing action film? Why is no one publicly declaring they will not vote for Django Unchained for a single Oscar like they did with Zero Dark Thirty? The hypocrisy of these jerks is amazing.

  7. Yes, if it came down to either Oscars or $$$ (which is sometimes counterintuitive), I’d choose the latter any day of the opening weekend.

  8. Jerry Grant

    Great film.

    The torture thing is not a non-issue; it makes perfect sense there’s controversy about it.

    She still should have been nominated for BD–no question. Major snub. (Replacing Zeitlin, if it were up to me.)

  9. “You do not see the press going after Affleck for Argo and if that movie was factual or not.”

    I was hoping this sucker would pop back up. Yes, there is more padding, skewing, and exaggeration of events in Argo than ZDT, but Affleck and the former CDN ambassador had a discussion when it came to light and came to an understanding, which is the best way to resolve it. Everybody’s happy. It’s only a movie, right? Nothing more to say.

    “It’s only a movie” just doesn’t cut it though, when a US official might appear to have shit on his hands. The mere suggestion that something unethical may have been done at some point in 10 years to obtain miniscule bits of data that MIGHT lead to something worthwhile…well the self-righteous and the military and the gov’t went absolutely apeshit.

    Just a note on Argo, folks. The former ambassador’s wife, during the showing of the film, leaned over to her husband during the climax and said, “I don’t remember it being that exciting.” They both had a laugh over it.

    Meantime, Bigelow gets pilloried. Nice, guys.

  10. Gosh I love this movie, only Argo and Lincoln beat for me this year :) the raid sequence was so full of tension and suspense I was riveted to the screen, I was so proud we have the seal teams. They were so brave and I loved Jessica Chastain, she killed it and deserves to win ba in my opinion, I have not seen Riva yet however.

  11. Dusan Oljaca

    The director and writer of Zero Dark Thirty take a decidedly amoral position on the subjects of torture, terrorism, and worst of all on America’s warfare state. Most people I’ve discussed the film with on these specific issues, when we get down and dirty actually having in depth discussions, also agree that taking the “it’s a film not a doc” approach, and the “we’re just representing the facts” approach at the same time, is contradictory, and also potentially very damaging. Interesting that a youtube video was blamed for a few weeks for inciting violence, when far more people have seen this film, which unlike the youtube video (which actually had relatively few hits until Clinton and Obama kept talking about it) Zero Dark Thirty is very highly acclaimed and getting tons of awards. Are we at all concerned about anger this could potentially incite in people in Islamic countries seeing that Americans praise amoral films like this, which “depict” torture without actually making any kind of real statement at all about it (not including Jessica Chastain’s little tear drop rolling down her cheek at the end) We all know that the President was deeply concerned about a then very unseen and not at all acclaimed cheap youtube video. Why no concern from those who also condemned that crappy movie, when Zero Dark Thirty is a million times more potentially damaging to America’s reputation? Many very reasonable people from middle eastern countries see American’s applauding this film, and condemning the youtube video. Yet only a total idiot would argue that the youtube video is more damaging. Even for myself, as an American (european born) found myself rooting AGAINST Maya, because the woman is in violation of many international laws, and also, frankly, her “I just wanted to drop a bomb” comment was disgusting! If I were a Pakistani person I would be very pissed at that comment. This film would make me want to oppose all Americans who support a pro war, pro torture (although Bigelow tries to deny it) So, where’s the consistency in criticism? I’m sorry, but I don’t accept the fact that Zero Dark Thirty is “well made” because to me the aesthetics are irrelevant when the content is amoral, propagandizing garbage. That being said, I don’t think the film was actually very well made. On a tech level, I’d give it a C+. Maya’s black CIA spy wig was so funny I almost pissed myself. Half of the film’s serious moments reminded me of TEAM AMERICA WORLD POLICE! Only that film was INTENTIONALLY funny. Zero Dark Thirty, not so much. That’s my two cents. Sorry if it offends.

  12. comedywontwin

    it’s the best movie in 2012 period. I agree about the unreal scenes in Argo, some are so cartoonish, no one says anything about it, especially the aiport chase and interrogation then chasing Swiss Airline, was all a mess or it was like I was watching a comedy movie. Afterall, Argo will end up winning the oscar like Crash did…..it’s a replacement for ZD30 since the academy didn’t like the later….Argo will win. Zero dark thirty reminds me of BrokeBack Mountain.

  13. I don’t think there would be this huge controversy if they either removed the card saying ti was based on first hand accounts or did not have it in the first place.

  14. rufussondheim

    I think the movie knowingly portrays certain events as immoral. And there is a certain amorality here, she doesn’t pass judgment, or, shall I say, she shows instead of tells. To say the movie is bad because it didn’t take a moral stance is kind of off. So you only like a movie that shows your point of view? A movie is only good if it shows your idea of morality?

    How dull your world must be.

  15. In terms of direction, her snub was the worst. Kudos to Affleck, but ZD30 is something different. Shame on the controversies, thanks God every now and then we get to watch movies who are make us THINK.

  16. Sasha Stone

    I agree PJ. I think their starting out by calling it history in the first place is what set this ball in motion. But now that it’s out there hey, we’re all talking about it so it’s a great thing.

  17. Sasha Stone

    I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece; Hurt Locker was that to me. But yeah, it’s a great flick. Deserving of a BD nom for sure.

  18. Sasha Stone

    And it isn’t true she’s the only director anyone is talking about: her movie is the critics’ darling so it’s all THEY’RE talking about but other directors are in the conversation this year in a big way.

  19. Film Fatale

    Dusan, there’s too much nonsense in your post to respond to, but you are fatally wrong about the following and it indicates you misread the intention of the film’s final scene:

    “not including Jessica Chastain’s little tear drop rolling down her cheek at the end”

    That has NOTHING to do with “making a real statement” about “torture” as you call it, and everything to do with a woman who has no sense of her own identity and cannot answer the question asked about where she would like to go. She is a zombie, persona non grata in her own life, with nothing but her hunt for ten years — which is now behind her. The cost, and tear, at the end of the picture about about what she has given up and what she has left now that her mission has been completed. She is a company woman through and through and now her job has been finished. THAT is why she cries, not as a statement of feelings on “torture,” a word that has been misused all over by critics of this movie.

  20. “I think it boils down to her being a woman. Period.
    You do not see the press going after Affleck for Argo and if that movie was factual or not.”

    Scott,
    Where have you been, the press DID go after Affleck on Argo questioning parts of the film. The Canadians also went after him saying he didn’t give them enough credit. The difference is Ben Affleck came forward admitting which parts of his film where made up, he added credit to the Candians in the post script and he went everywhere with Ex-CIA agent Tony Mendes to vouch for him. Bigelow and Boal didn’t do any of that. They dance around the issue of fact and fiction. They dance around the question of torture being the key to finding Bin Laden. My friend if you think the torture controvesy is only about Bigelow’s gender you have been asleep for the last 10 years. The torture debate has been as hot as any abortion issue. People are very, very, very passionate about it. Everyone has an opinion. Boal and Bigelow were naive to think this wouldn’t blow up.

  21. Scott,
    Where have you been, the press DID go after Affleck on Argo questioning parts of the film.

    Not to even half the same extent to which they went after Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.

    Boal and Bigelow were naive to think this wouldn’t blow up.

    I don’t know that they didn’t think that. Maybe they just expected, though, that telling the truth (whether or not it is the truth, I believe that they regard it as the truth based on their research) was the right thing to do.

  22. Boal and Bigelow were naive to think this wouldn’t blow up.

    It might be naive to think that Boal and Bigelow were worried about how a provocative handling of an inflammatory topic might affect their Oscar chances.

    I mean, if they wanted to play it safe for the Oscars, Boal and Bigelow could probably have cooked up a screenplay about some hottie bipolar dude and his hottie stalker.

  23. “Not to even half the same extent to which they went after Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.”
    Duh because he didn’t make a film about the most controvesial US policy in our lifetime. What part of this are people failing to grasp, this was already a flaming hot button issue well before Bigelow-Boals touched it. I feel like no one follows the news or politics. We have had Presidential debates, congressional hirings and International human rights campaigns about this stuff. It’s not something you step into lightly and think the press will ignore. If Ben Affleck makes a movie taking one side of the abortion issue whether pro or con I promise you there will be op-eds falling on his head like a ton of bricks.
    —–
    Also remember when Argo came out even the reviews questioned parts of the film so Affleck got INFRONT of the story and talked to the press right away. He has so many interviews on record it’s ridiculous. He was honest right away about what was ahistorical. If Bigelow-Boals acted like Affleck and removed the whole “based on true sources/real history” bit they wouldn’t have gotten half the outrage. It’s really their claim to being a factual story that got them into trouble. Affleck made sure to clear that up right away. You honestly have to not have been following the news in the last 10 years if you think this is just about Bigelow’s gender. It’s actually pretty offensive to people like Jane Meyer who have been writing about this stuff for YEARS (sticking her neck out when Bush was in office and attacking the press) to say the flack over torture is only because Bigelow is a woman.

  24. Unlikely hood

    *applauds Jerry*

  25. Bob Burns

    it’s a film that will contribute to human suffering …..and not just by prisoners in US custody…

    read their earlier statement to the LA Times carefully they are setting themseves up to claim first amendment protections as if they are journalists…. and hiring Henry Kissinger’s attorney. All very Nixonesque.

    Now they are styling themselves artists, not reporters. Two-faced bs.

  26. I think they made the mistake of letting the controversy be what the film is about. Meaning, I’ve been reading about this movie for months now and the discussion is pretty much only about the torture in it. No one goes into discussing the film as a film the way they have about every other movie in contention this year. I don’t know if that help or hurt it to be honest. I personally didn’t like it. I didn’t think it was one of the best films of 2012 because of the way the story was told and Jessica Chastain’s choices in a couple of scenes. It rang untrue to me. But none of these things have been discussed. Everything’s about the torture, the torture, the torture. Maybe that’s what they wanted. I have no idea, but the fact that it’s been out now for a while and lots of people have seen it and the whole interview was still about the torture and that’s it, just seems like a waste.

  27. Byron gray

    The political commisars of the Left condemned Zero Dark Thirty because of its scenes of torture. So I knew right then and there Zero’ s chances for the Oscar were nil and that Bigelow would need to be punished. I wish the Lefties in Hollywood were as morally indignant about the violence they spew on the nation’s screens week after week. But of course those films make lots of money. The Leftists in Hollywood may talk the socialist line but they are capitalists at heart. Still I can’t help but snicker: Its fun watching the Lefties of Hollywood eat their own. It reminds me of the power plays in the old Soviet Union.

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