“Zero Dark Thirty”: The Review
While the political component of the film “Zero Dark Thirty” by the American director Kathryn Bigelow might be polarizing to a certain extent, its individual element is undoubtedly the strongest aspect of the movie. The film does not exactly exert unambiguous and resolute judgment on the brutal and inhuman methods of interrogation (namely, torture) used upon those accused of terrorist activities against the USA and the European countries, and it does not particularly dwell on the question of lives of innocent women and children that were harmed for being unfortunate enough to be in a close proximity of the United States’ enemy number one – or, more precisely, the person who was believed to be Osama bin Laden.
However, there is an alternative interpretation of the film in question. The film might also be read as depicting a story of personal triumph of one specific woman, and a stubborn, headstrong, determined, unyielding, willful, and relentless one at that. It is a woman who cannot find peace until Osama bin Laden is located and eliminated; until he receives the ultimate penance for his crimes, namely the 9/11 tragedy. And as such, the film directed by the woman who is very much just as resolute, unbending, and strong-willed as her heroine, both in her life and art, becomes an anthem praising the uncompromising and unflinching individuality.
Agent Maya is ready and willing to sacrifice everything and go all the way, for she has the courage of her own convictions, and is certain that the path she has chosen to follow is the righteous one. “I'm going to smoke everyone involved in this op and then I'm going to kill Osama bin Laden” (Bigelow 2012), - this quote demonstrates just how far she is willing to go, and how sure of it she is. There is nothing else she would rather be doing; she is focused on her task to the point of being obsessed. She makes the viewer see this hunt through her eyes, and thus understand its significance, both to the world as a whole and to the USA as a part of it. Watching the sequence of events occur through her eyes, the viewer is forced to reconcile the zeal and diligence of one woman with the importance of successful fulfillment of her task to the bigger picture; the bigger picture here being the world security and the global war on terrorism. Therefore, while the politics in the film are subtle – they are still there, which only makes the film’s overall message all the more effective.
The director does not shy away from the gritty realism of the methods employed by the CIA in providing the security of the United States, nor does she glorify any of the main characters or their mission. She tries to be as objective as possible, seeing as a large portion of the films on similar topics is used as a means of political propaganda.
This is not the case here. Kathryn Bigelow adds a necessary personal quality to the story, and it definitely works to her advantage. As the main heroine becomes justified in her actions through the lens of the viewer’s perception, the CIA and the US government as a whole do as well. And how could they not be, when the film starts off with a two-minute montage of the nation’s reaction to the 9/11 events, when the viewer is forced to watch a pitch-black screen and hear the sounds of chaos, mass hysteria, and feel the horror of the situation to the bone. It is impossible not to root for the people, set to eradicate the cause of such cruelty and make sure a disaster of such scale is never repeated.
Bigelow, Kathryn, dir. Zero Dark Thirty. Columbia Pictures, 2012. Film.