The Controversy Behind Zero Dark Thirty

ZeroDarkThirty2012PosterMovies are meant to provoke new thoughts and meaning into the viewer’s mind, and when a film does not accomplish this [quite difficult] feat, it leaves the viewer empty- basically considering the fact they just wasted 2 hours of their lives. Time and time again, I will constantly bring up the case of Natural Born Killers, a film which has to be the most controversial movie of all time- causing the murders of over 30 people and injuries of over 40.

While this film is nowhere near the cause of mass murders, it is still the center of mass criticism from political groups for its brutal depiction of torture methods used by the government. Some of those methods depicted in the film include a water suffocation method, as well as blasting heavy metal music and sleep deprivation.

Acting director of the CIA, Michael Morell, has stated that “the film takes considerable liberties in its depiction of CIA personnel and their actions, including some who died while serving our country.  We cannot allow a Hollywood film to cloud our memory of them.” The CIA itself has taken a firm stand stating that enhanced interrogation methods did not lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden, but it is agreed upon that torture has played an impact in the past events.

The film itself follows Maya, (Jessica Chastain), a CIA agent recruited right out of high school whose first assignment is to get information on a captured prisoner of war and ultimately move her way up by capturing a list of wanted terrorists. Over time, she garners self-respect through her research by discovering new and vital information.

A gritty film with some intense pop-up violence and even more severe scenes, Zero Dark Thirty definitely deserves its recognition.   Nominated for 5 Oscars (including Best Actress for Chastain, Best Motion Picture, and Best Writing), the film has gone on to succeed not only financially but cinematically as well.

The film was even postponed due to the controversy. Originally meant to be released during the U.S. presidential election, it received criticism for its pro-Obama stance, causing Mark Boal, the film’s screenwriter, to rebuke and mention that the president is not in the film. It released in New York and Los Angeles on December 18th to ensure Oscar eligibility, but the nationwide release wasn’t until January 11th.

Overall, the violence in the film seemed truly genuine, and there were moments where one will wonder just how close to reality the film. The controversy continues to live on as more and more people see the film and voice their interpretations. It’s been interesting to see the response from the government, political figures (Several senators, including John McCain, have made statements.) and other people who have lost love ones in this fight.

You can check out an interview with the cast voicing their opinions on the debate, and watch a trailer for the film below:

Catherina has been writing since she was 14 years old- screenplays, movie reviews, sports stories and anything in between. Living in New York City, she can tell you any fact about any movie. She writes screenplays in her free time and is a huge Kevin Spacey, Tina Fey and Quentin Tarantino fan. You can contact her at