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Director Kathryn Bigelow defends torture scenes in 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Jan. 17, 2013 at 5:55 PM   |   Comments

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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. director Kathryn Bigelow is defending "Zero Dark Thirty's" depiction of "the role [torture] played" in the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The movie -- advertised as the true story behind the killing of the infamous terrorist -- has been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and was No. 1 at the U.S. box office last weekend.

Three U.S. senators have said the movie is "grossly inaccurate" and the acting head of the CIA, Mike Morell, has said it leaves a false impression about the use of "enhanced interrogation."

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain, R-Ariz., said last month in a letter to Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton that scenes of detainees being tortured, in particular, create the implication that torture yielded "critical" information on a courier who, in turn, led to bin Laden.

"'Zero Dark Thirty' is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film's fictional narrative," the senators wrote.

In an essay published Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times, Bigelow said she is a lifelong pacifist and supports "all protests against the use of torture, and, quite simply, inhumane treatment of any kind."

While not specifically addressing the objections raised by Feinstein, Levin, McCain and Morell, Bigelow denied the inclusion of torture scenes in "Zero Dark Thirty" was an endorsement of torture.

"On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices," she wrote.

"Experts disagree sharply on the facts and particulars of the intelligence hunt, and doubtlessly that debate will continue," Bigelow wrote.

"Bin Laden wasn't defeated by superheroes zooming down from the sky; he was defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines, who labored greatly and intently, who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death, for the defense of this nation."

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