- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
‘Zero Dark Thirty’: From a view to a kill
NEW YORK — Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal were knee-deep in preparing a film — their follow-up to their Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker — that would chronicle the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, his escape in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, and the vanishing trail of the world’s most-wanted man.
“Then history changed,” said Ms. Bigelow.
After a team of Navy SEALs killed bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2 last year, the director, Ms. Bigelow, and Mr. Boal, a journalist-turned-screenwriter, set about remaking their film. Whereas most films start with a concept or a dramatic arc, Mr. Boal and Ms. Bigelow built “Zero Dark Thirty” one source at a time, piecing together a narrative out of recent history shrouded in secrecy.
The approach — a marriage of Mr. Boal’s reporting and Ms. Bigelow’s visceral action - has made “Zero Dark Thirty” a lightning rod. Though Sony’s Columbia Pictures won’t release it until Dec. 19 in New York and Los Angeles with a national release to follow on Jan. 11, it has already been hailed as the best film of the year, spawned a Pentagon investigation and elicited op-eds that say the film exaggerates the efficacy of torture.
“Zero Dark Thirty,” which introduces itself as “based on firsthand accounts of actual events,” is a new kind of timely fusing of filmmaking and journalism — what Ms. Bigelow calls “an imagistic version of living history.”
Beginning with a black screen and a harrowing cacophony of voices from Sept. 11, “Zero Dark Thirty” unfolds like a decade-long revenge drama, depicting the sometimes ugly, sometimes cunning pursuit of bin Laden. The story isn’t told through politicians, but via ferocious CIA officers (Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke), modeled on the real if anonymous people who led the hunt.
Many film critics think “Zero Dark Thirty” will repeat the Academy Awards feat of “The Hurt Locker,” which won both best picture and best director for Ms. Bigelow — the first such win for a female filmmaker.
But it has also stirred up considerable controversy, including claims that the filmmakers learned of confidential identities and details in their liaisons with the military.
It began when the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch obtained records from the Defense Department and the CIA that detailed meetings in which Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers allegedly provided the identity of the commander of SEAL Team 6 (the unit that killed bin Laden) and of tactical planning on the raid. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter T. King, N.Y. Republican, then raised questions about the making of the film. The Pentagon and CIA have conducted internal investigations into the matter.
“If anything, I’m much more concerned than I was originally,” said Mr. King, citing an ongoing investigation with the Defense Department. “People in the military were being pressured to cooperate with Hollywood, and Hollywood was given access to areas of personnel it shouldn’t have access to.”
The White House, which some thought was eager to glamorize President Obama’s role in the raid, has called the claims false. (Mr. Obama’s ordering of the raid isn’t depicted in the film.) Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, the former CIA director who’s played by James Gandolfini in the film, told the Senate in June that no unauthorized information was provided to the filmmakers.
Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Defense Department spokesman, said the hourlong meeting with Mr. Boal and Ms. Bigelow was part of a “system that has been in place for many, many years” to ensure Hollywood has the necessary background to represent the military accurately.
“The Department of Defense routinely provides information to reputable filmmakers,” said Col. Gregory. “In this case, one meeting occurred where we provided some strategic context and explored possibilities of providing some assistance. However, no assistance was ever provided to the filmmakers.”
“We got caught up in an election year,” said Mr. Boal, who denied receiving classified information and said he has not participated in any subsequent investigations.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- Atheists smug as Hindus join Satanists to demand display at Oklahoma Statehouse
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow