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A compelling film

A compelling film
The screen adaptation of ‘history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man’ is not all about thrilling action. True the agents zip across the world, but mostly to put the fear of death in the terrorist suspects held in various US bases and thus extract any information that could lead to the elusive Laden. Even the fictitious agent, Maya (Jessica Chastain), the central character of the film, (whose obsession with Laden leads her finally to that compound in Abbottabad), is no Lara Croft. When it is time for real action, she sits in the control room biting nails.

Undoubtedly, the final sequences of the Navy SEAL’s stealth operation impressively showcase US’ claim to military supremacy. But Bigelow shows us that the crowning glory moment is the result of a lot of ‘dull’ desk work — the intelligence gathered is checked and cross-checked painstakingly by the likes of Maya. Bigelow also hints at the power play and politics that are involved in a game as big as Laden.

But despite what Bigelow claims, it could not possibly be all real. The writer, Mark Boal, apparently had ‘highly placed sources’ in the CIA who gave him access to real events. The internet is full of articles that point out the glaring loopholes. For instance, according to the Bigelow team, the CIA tried to infiltrate the compound and gather DNA sample to identify Laden under the garb of polio eradication. But
Guardian
had published an investigative report in July 2011, after the Pakistani officials arrested the doctor who had coordinated with CIA, according to which the CIA had used hepatitis B vaccination as cover.

Bigelow doesn’t shy away from showing the torture that was involved in coercing the terrorists. She stays middle ground, not taking sides when it comes to the controversial subject, but it is obvious that she leans towards the view that torture is a necessary evil. According to the film, the lead that Maya pursues, which ultimately leads her to Laden — was something that she came across after ‘breaking’ a terrorist using methods that one now associates with Guantanamo Bay. It is not really true, say many, including John McCain.

Zero Dark Thirty
certainly makes for a compelling film. But do keep in mind that Bigelow has cashed in on her artistic license big time.
Jemima Raman

Jemima Raman

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