Michael Moore’s Take on ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

I still haven’t seen ZD30, but Michael Moore’s assessment sounds pretty reasonable to me. He argued that the movie is, in fact, an anti-torture movie:

“In the final third of Zero Dark Thirty, the agents switch from torture to detective work — and guess what happens? We find bin Laden! Eight years of torture — no bin Laden. Two years of detective work — boom! Bin Laden!”

Personally, I’ve always thought the brutal portrayal of torture in the movie (so I’m told) is the greatest argument against it, not unlike the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs.

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  • chris castle

    I saw the film and agree 100 percent with MM’s review and assessment. Time magazine nailed it to in its cover story on Bigelow.

  • Scopedog

    “Personally, I’ve always thought the brutal portrayal of torture in the movie (so I’m told) is the greatest argument against it…”

    Only if you’re Glenn Greenwald.

    Moore’s assessment of the film is right on. The movie isn’t some rah-rah flag-waving propaganda nonsense; it’s a straightforward, well-acted, and powerful film that cuts right to the chase and tells the tale. It’s more in line with Uli Edel’s THE BAADER-MEINHOF COMPLEX. Still, I would urge you to see it, and make your own judgement of the film.

  • MrDHalen

    I have not seen the film, but I have a question for those who have seen it. Is the pointing out that torture failed explicit or implied? This is what makes me nervous about the film, because if it is implied, I’m not sure the people who need to get it, will get it.

  • mrbrink

    Ha. No, it wasn’t an anti-torture movie to the layperson. I had to argue with my Mom about how our torturing of captive human beings muddied the line between “good guys and bad guys,” and how we tortured KSM 200 times because torture works so well we had to do it 200 times on one guy! I had to argue that at a certain point, an objective observer would not have a difficult time determining who the evil-doers are.

    Fuck that movie. It’s a Cliff Notes version of the hunt for Bin Laden for Dummies. The dialog, the acting, the story, the thrust– Like Pee Wee Herman’s life story recreated on the big screen.

    No. My non-scientific layperson focus group left that movie with a more favorable view of torture, and more outspoken about it than before.

    It ends with a bullet in Bin Laden’s head. Good times, and if torture can make us feel so good, it can’t be wrong, right?

    My running joke around here is Katheryn Bigelow is the real life version of Lee Donowitz. The Hurt Locker was like her Coming Home In a Bodybag!

    ZD30 might as well be Lee Donowitz’s “Bodybags 2.”

    Adding, this is not to say that I disagree with MM’s breakdown, as far as telling us how we should view the film, and I think he explained very well, and colorfully, the more nuanced subtleties of the film. But that’s nuance. Too nuanced to reach the layperson and I’m not sure he gets that.

    • MrDHalen

      Thanks for your take on my question. Like I said, it’s a problem if the film does not explicitly show how torture is a failed tactic and should not be used by U.S.

      People should walk out of the film knowing torture is wrong and doesn’t work, but that’s not what I’m hearing, it sounds like its implied and the viewer has to put two and two together. That’s not good!

      • mrbrink

        We’ve seen torture on the big screen for years. The torture in this movie isn’t at all explicit by any standard today, but certainly enough PG torture to convince Peggy Noonan America that it was worth it, even if they feel a little dirty for it.

        I think too many people find torturing human beings as the Dirty Business Branch of National Security, and this movie does very little to dishonor that institution.

        But Michael Moore defended it well, it’s just that he doesn’t seem to realize that if the movie did what he says it does to/for the torture debate, he wouldn’t have to defend it to this degree.

        • MrDHalen

          True, torture has been on the big screen for years, but I don’t think its been shown as a useful tool for or act carried out by our military. We mostly see the hero acting alone and in a desperate situation.

          You’re right about Michael Moore as well, the fact that someone has to defend it, maybe means the message wasn’t clear enough.

          I think in real life, torture explicitly failed and that should have been just as explicit in the movie.