Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin criticize Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ for torture

By Daniel S Levine,

While Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty has already won a slew of awards and critical praise, the film has been met with criticism directed towards its handling of torture. Now, a bipartisan group of senators have joined the fray, writing a letter to Sony Pictures Entertainment slamming the film for claiming to be based on fact.

“We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty,” Senators Carl Levin, Dianne Feinstein and John McCain wrote in the letter addressed to Sony CEO Michael Lynton on Wednesday, notes Deadline. “We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.”

The senators recognize that the film, which stars Jessica Chastain, is fictional, it states at the beginning that it is based on real events. They noted that there have been reports that Bigelow and writer Mark Boal got assistance from the CIA while making the film.

“As you know, the film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Usama Bin Laden,” the letter reads. “Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect.”

They tell Sony that it has “an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Usama Bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film’s fictional narrative.”

Boal and Bigelow, who have made several attempts to deny that the White House ever provided them any information while making the film, sent a response to The Wrap.

The Oscar-winning team behind The Hurt Locker state that, “This was a 10-year intelligence operation brought to the screen in a two-and-a-half-hour film. We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden...The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes.”

They noted that it is not fair to judge the film on one scene, adding, “We encourage people to see the film before characterizing it.”

Zero Dark Thirty opened in LA and New York on Wednesday and reaches cinemas nationwide on Jan. 11.

image: Sony

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