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Oscars over, Senate investigate into Zero Dark Thirty ends

ZeroDarkThirty.jpgCould this be coincidence? I'm not really one for conspiracy theories but the day after the Academy Awards honoured the excellent film Zero Dark Thirty with a mere single technical award the US Senate have dropped their enquiry into it.

Well done, if they had planned to scupper it during the awards season they may well have achieved that but the good news is they've been giving it more publicity than ever, and I'm going to help it a bit more with this article.

The US Senate launched an investigation into whether or not the film-makers of Zero Dark Thirty had received access to materials and information for the making of the film that they shouldn't have, which in itself says two things very clearly. One that the film is very close to the truth otherwise there would be no need for an investigation as it would have been wrong, and two that they were investigating their end and why information came out, not the film.

Let me say firstly that there's no evidence that this investigation had any effect on the Academy Awards voting panel other than a really deserving film was overlooked in every category, but then we've seen that happen time and time again without any political pressure. Still, if it did, then the shame lies on those who let it change their voting behaviour, after all what could they have done? Surely the investigation was into Government agency practices, not the Academy Awards voting panel?

The Guardian article which references the Reuters article that points out the fact that the investigation has closed had a couple of quotes from Mark Boal the writer of Zero Dark Thirty (Filmstalker review), and Kathryn Bigelow the director of the film. Speaking about the film and depiction of realism Boal said:

"It's a movie. I've been saying from the beginning it's a movie...That shouldn't be too confusing. It's in cinemas and if it's not totally obvious, a CIA agent wasn't really an Australian [Jason Clarke] that was on a lot of TV shows and Jessica Chastain isn't really a CIA agent; she's a very talented actress. But I think most American audiences understand that."

Yes, and hopefully most non-American audiences too. Bigelow's comment was even better when she addressed the New York Film Critics Circle at their awards ceremony when she won Best Director, now there's a room full of people not scared of potential controversy:

"I thankfully want to say that I'm standing in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices; no author could ever write about them; and no film-maker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time."

Now having seen the film I can say that it presents a very balanced view of many points, particularly that of the use of torture to gain information. Yes they do manage to get information without the use of torture, but at the same time you can clearly see the difficulties that the agents face in trying to get the information without it, and their frustration is clear. The film does present both sides and leaves you to make up your own mind.

Regardless of all this the investigation is over. The Reuters article has a comment from a congressional aide that says the Senate Intelligence Committee had closed its investigation into the inquiry regarding the information flow out of the CIA to the film-makers and that no action is to be taken.

No action? You mean no one was at fault and the film-makers didn't lie? What was the outcome? Are they now going to publicly vindicate the film and the film-makers? No, why should they? They've managed to achieve what they wanted to, although in fact it has just resulted in more publicity for the film.

Here's my review of Zero Dark Thirty (Filmstalker review) and I recommend you go and watch the film, it's very good and deserved awards.




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