Archives: post 9/11 entertainment

On the domestication of torture: a critical review of Zero Dark Thirty

by David Denny

The critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty directed by Kathryn Bigelow has generated a firestorm of commentary and debate surrounding the depiction of torture as the cause of finding Osama bin Laden. The debate can be summed up in the following way: Either the film is A), a brilliant cinematic feat in boldly and unsparingly telling the story of the killing Osama bin Laden in the vein of a detective procedural that takes that genre to a new level of sophistication, especially in terms of the way it utilizes cinema-verite (a documentary, hand held camera) to dramatize the story, or B), the film deploys these same cinematic techniques to captivate the viewer, to keep us on the edge of our seats, for the purpose of not necessarily informing us of ‘what really happened’ but of entertaining us, and therein effectively, even if perhaps unwittingly, endorsing the use of torture as a necessary means to a triumphant end.