zero dark thirty

i saw kathryn bigelow’s zero dark thirty a few days ago, and i have to say that it was an awesome film. i do not mean ‘awesome’ like in the context of, “wow! look at this pair of socks with triceratops printed on them – they’re so awesome.” i mean it in the way that i sat there in the dark of the theater for a substantial amount of time before silently exiting the building. i had gone with a friend to see the movie, and it took both of us a long time to formulate a concrete reaction that was worthy of vocalization.

does this movie show some very intense torture scenes? yes; be prepared. this movie made me think a lot about whether or not torture is a justifiable means (hey, machiavelli) to extract information that could potentially save the lives of many. notice here that i used the word ‘potentially’. there is no guarantee when it comes to interrogation and the human mind. the director herself discusses more about torture in this movie, here. obviously, there is an enormous amount of controversy surrounding this film. how true is this story? i can’t answer that question. does it seem a little bit ridiculous that a single person successfully spearheaded an intelligence operation to find the world’s most wanted terrorist? absolutely. in my mind, the intelligence alone must have required hundreds of agents (is that the right title?) working around the clock for over a decade. that being said, having a ton of worker bee people in suits milling around for 60 minutes of a movie is the opposite of entertaining, and so the decision to have a main character is natural. i very much appreciated the fact that this character was a woman and one who was (again, according to the movie) strong, filled with conviction, and damn good at her job.

[some spoilers here] when the movie ended, i was angry. i thought that the ending was ill fitting and made the protagonist look incredibly weak. but the more i thought about this, the more i have realized that the ending was right. how should a person feel if they have been working tirelessly toward a single goal for more than a third of their lifetime.. and suddenly the goal is achieved? initial reactions must have been relief, maybe elation. but then what? when she got on that plane and the pilot asked her where she was going now, she had no answer. what could she say? where is her home? what is she supposed to do now? i cannot imagine that people who are that high up in the intelligence division, who are constantly moving around because of their jobs, have a 10 year, 5 year, or even 1 year plan. what a terrible feeling it must be, to know that you helped achieve something so great (again, let me emphasize that i am not saying the assassination of a human being is a positive thing, but rather a very notable event), but because of that achievement a piece of your identity is now gone. i’m sure that in the real world, jessica chastain’s character would move on to the next assignment, but for the 300th time i will clarify that i am speaking in the context of this particular film.

i do not believe that this film is necessarily representative of the true occurrences of events. however, regardless of one’s political views, humanitarian views, religious views, whatever, i believe that it deserves to be watched. i believe that kathryn bigelow deserves the awards she has received and will receive. i believe that zero dark thirty was an incredible interpretation of intense emotions in the context of the mission to locate osama bin laden – to whom the film refers as ‘usama bin laden’ and ‘UBL’. after some research on the FBI’s website, i have found that usama is in fact the spelling that they use. i did not know this before. (i was going to link to the website, but i think they track things like that and i got paranoid that they would think i was a weirdo. just google his name, it’s not that hard to find).

i’m going to be honest, if this movie was in any way supposed to be propaganda for applying to work at the CIA or FBI, it was very effective. i did not, though, feel the least bit patriotic after watching the film – which i found to be strange considering the strong reactions that many US citizens expressed via the internet after learning the news of bin laden’s death.

i highly recommend that you go watch this movie with an open mind. it is worth the current and ridiculous $12 price of a movie. just bring your own snacks, they seriously overcharge for concessions (as you should already know).


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