Now that it's apparent that Kathryn Bigelow's new Bin Laden hunting film "Zero Dark Thirty" doesn't glorify the Obama administration (instead, it is a procedural that focuses on one woman's quest to find the al Qaeda leader), the next big question is how it uses torture, and what that endorses (if anything).
The film opens with the torturing of an al Qaeda courrier, who is waterboarded, sexually humiliated and crammed into a tiny box until he agrees to give up some important information.
Below the fold, here's what the cast and pundits have to say.
"I wish that it wasn't a part of history, but it is and was," Bigelow told the NY Daily News, a quote that was highlighted by Mother Jones, which frets that the film could be seen as endorsing the methods -- the info they get is helpful in their decade-long quest.
They note that the CIA itself has said that torture does not work; captives will either hold onto the information, or lie to get out of the treatment.
As for the actors, they had their own moral quandaries.
"It was really difficult to film even though, of course, we’re acting," star Jessica Chastain, who plays the lead CIA agent, told The Hollywood Reporter last week. "But we filmed it in an active Jordanian prison. The energy wasn’t the best in that place. I’m playing a woman who’s trained to be unemotional and analytically precise. I’ve been trained my whole life to be emotional and to let all my walls down and be very vulnerable. So to put myself in a situation like that it’s like I have to not follow my instincts -- and my instincts, it seemed like that would be to cry. So I had to then show her discomfort, but to go back to her training of being unemotional."
Meanwhile, Jason Clarke went through the waterboarding process himself (with safety precautions, of course), and watched other methods on the internet. Later in the film, they note that the practice has been banned.
Screenwriter Mark Boal, a former journalist, said there was no agenda.
"It's a movie that you can dissect however you want, which is fair enough," he told Indiewire, "but I can tell you as the author that there was no agenda here other than telling a good story and being faithful to the research."
Bigelow echoed that stance. "It's not a filmmaker's position to judge," she said. "I would never do that."
Thoughts? Should a film condemn torture, or just show what happened? Does the filmmaker have a responsibility to be moral? Should a movie be fact checked?