I had the chance to see Zero Dark Thirty yesterday, which then allowed me to dive into the writing about the film that I had been collecting for the past month. I want to link to Mark Bowden’s piece about why Zero Dark Thirty isn’t pro-torture:
Everyone understands the rules of this game. Theater is theater, not a scrupulous presentation of fact. We ought to feel betrayed only when filmmakers depart egregiously and deliberately from the record, as Oliver Stone so often has done, substituting what he thinks might be true or perhaps would like to be true for what is known. Reality, after all, is messy and only rarely lines up neatly enough for a two-hour script. Hollywood’s “true story” aims only to color safely inside the lines of history.
I’m increasingly surprised by audiences who want artists to take moral stands in the narrative of their work, rather than in the construction of that narrative. It’s an approach that would avoid grey areas and merely present arguments in black and white. It’s not subtle, nor would it be rewarding.