… I have to make very clear my position… despite being interested in what Bigelow, as a filmmaker, may have created, the whole issue bugs me beyond belief – yes, I’m a conspiranoid, but how couldn’t I be, given my professional background?
It haven’t been so long when Michael Bay decided to show us that Pearl Harbor had a revenge, in which – literally said in the film – they just wanted to focus on the factories (when History show us otherwise and the raids on Tokyo are one of the worst crimes against Humanity ever commited, not to mention the surprise when you read the wikipedia article about the actual events… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Harbor_%28film%29 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Tokyo
But that film is spectacular crap and that’s its main intention, anyways… problem is, when you distort and twist reality to transform a bunch of desperate soldiers into heroes and victims, in Black Hawk Down, probably the most successful and disgraceful propaganda film attempted since Leni Riefehnstal, in which we follow the drama of less than a couple of dozens of american soldiers (played by scots, australians and so on) in a survival fight that left over one thousand victims in Somalia. Manipulative with racist touches (as subtle as let some somalians hang like monkeys from the fallen helicopter) here and there, somalians are shown as nameless, faceless zombies with guns. Despite the large amount of killing in the film, only a woman is seen being killed by the heros (despite their warnings to NOT pick up the gun, in english, of course) and only a death child is seen (who killed him? the movie doesn’t say, but for 2 hours you’ve checked out that the heroes only kill those who “deserve it”). The movie came *this close* to a Best Picture nomination, Ridley Scott got *this close* of actually winning the Oscar he lost the year before with the much superior in all senses – specially if we talk about ethics and morals – “Gladiator” and the film actually has 2 Oscars in their bluray label. Thank God, in technicals.
So, manipulation and propaganda ain’t anything new in Hollywood or in the Oscar campaigning, anyways. And here comes Zero Dark Thirty, a film that, like Black Hawk Down, seems to be, technical and artistically, brilliant on all levels. But there are two extremely important issues to be addressed before jumping to it.
– 1) It is the “official Hollywood version” of something there’s not a single proof that EVER happened. Wait, wait, you’ll say, I saw Obama and Hillary watching it happen. No, you saw PHOTOS of Obama and Hillary reacting to something on a TV, that’s the accurate truth. You haven’t heard anyone saying “I did it”. You haven’t seen Ben Laden’s corpse but in photos that were proven fake by the US government itself (some really bad photoshopping). There’s no location of the corpse, no names of the witnesses and the most basic logic actually undermines the whole history, specially when you think about the extreme kidney disease Ben Laden had and that he managed, somehow, to overcome with medication and dyalisis for over a decade – one of the most easy things to track down for intelligence. You need too much faith or a big suspension of disbelief to believe Osama made it into the 10’s of the XXIst century, being the most hunted man in the world, and living just 200 kms. away from the troops, in a country that is – supposedly – an US ally, and in one of the most poor areas in that country (with that huge reward for any info about him). So, basically, the Obama history sounds like bullshit, and what underlines the kind of world we’re living in, is that the official media actually doesn’t even try to question what it looks so obviously as a lie. And here it comes, the “official” Hollywood version soon to be rewarded with a shower of Oscar nominations. I’ve seen reviewers sink masterpieces with less important plot holes.
– 2) The torture aspects of the film, being discussed… Seriously, I’m losing respect for a lot of reviewers who are being so easily drown into the “it is good, ’cause it works – it is bad, ’cause it doesn’t”. Torture is BAD wether it works or not. I don’t mind Bigelow showing in her fairy tale – designed to comfort a society of traumatized sheeps who would swallow anything just to feel a bit safer – prisoners being tortured to get information. If there’s a country that actually refined torture in the XXth century and spread it worldwide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_Americas) it probably is the USA. The “Patriot Act” only underlined what everybody with a little interest in human rights, worldwide, already knew. When you focus the criticism on the validity of torture just for its results, the first thing you lose is all your credit as a human being. From what I read, Bigelow decides to just portrait that torture was a part of the hunt, and lets the audience decide if it worked and if it was worth. Problem is, the point of hunting Ben Laden, #1 of an Hydra with so many heads, the CIA reports, should have always been to get him alive, question him to help dismantle the whole Al-Qaeda, put him into trial and sentence him and finally show the world, specially the muslims, that this never was a crusade, that this never was revenge, but JUSTICE. That we were better than him.
But of course, you have to wonder why so many intelligent people shies off bringing this basic, primary points into conversation. And how the ones that do it, are instant, massively labelled as conspiranoid weirdos.
I will see Zero Dark Thirty in the future, even if I will think of it as just another propaganda film rather than a representation of real events.