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The Action-Thriller “Zero Dark Thirty” Essay


A 2012 action-thriller Zero Dark Thirty is a Hollywood interpretation of the events which led to the capture and eventual death of one of the most dangerous terrorists – Osama bin Laden. Although based on real-life events, Hollywood sensationalized certain aspects of the capture operation, including the role of the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in the capture of the al-Qaida leader.

The first scene of the movie is a torture scene of one of the al-Qaeda terrorists named Ammar. The al-Qaeda middleman is strung up by ropes, chained in a cell, deprived of sleep, and waterboarded. The torture of captured al-Qaeda terrorists, as well as assumed terrorists, is a recurring theme of the movie. According to the narrative of Zero Dark Thirty, torture was not only effective but also vital for the capture of Osama bin Laden.

In the movie, enhanced interrogation techniques allowed the main character, CIA analyst Maya, to get the information about Osama bin Laden’s courier, which ultimately led the CIA to the terrorist’s secret compound where he was killed. The movie clearly implies a connection between the use of torture and obtaining crucial information which led to the success of the capture operation.

Upon the release of the movie, the brutal depiction of torture was highlighted by many critics as the most controversial point of the movie. In fact, it generated so much media coverage that it might explain the movie’s commercial success. It would not have been of such importance if Zero Dark Thirty was a typical Hollywood blockbuster. The movie, however, claimed to be based on true events. The use of torture by American forces in the campaign known as the War on Terror has been acknowledged and condemned.

Government officials claimed that torture was used in the operation against Osama bin Laden. However, the application of torture led to inaccurate information, and the most useful information came from non-coercive means of interrogation. It is up for debate whether the use of torture was essential for the capture of the most dangerous terrorist, but even if it was, it does not justify the pro-torture message of Zero Dark Thirty. The movie depicts torture as an effective method of obtaining reliable information and celebrates one of the most inhumane practices, while in reality, the application of torture often leads to false leads. When producing a movie such as Zero Dark Thirty, the production company does not just create a piece of entertainment.

It claims to show the true nature of events and then distorts facts to ride the wave of year-old controversy to boost ticket sales. Instead of showing the story as it happened, the director dramatized the story by emphasizing that the brutal use of torture was accepted by CIA agents as an effective measure to obtain Osama bin Laden. The director failed to show that CIA falsely believed that enhanced interrogation techniques were considered a magic bullet, while in reality, CIA’s delusion led to the tragic consequences.

Torture is one of the most inhumane ways of obtaining information which makes people lie when subjected to brutal methods. The sensationalization of the role of enhanced interrogation techniques in Osama bin Laden capture helped filmmakers create a mode dramatic portrait of the leading character at the expense of factual accuracy. In reality, torture was almost irrelevant to capturing Osama bin Laden.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 25). The Action-Thriller "Zero Dark Thirty". Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-action-thriller-zero-dark-thirty/

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"The Action-Thriller "Zero Dark Thirty"." IvyPanda, 25 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-action-thriller-zero-dark-thirty/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Action-Thriller "Zero Dark Thirty"." August 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-action-thriller-zero-dark-thirty/.


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IvyPanda. "The Action-Thriller "Zero Dark Thirty"." August 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-action-thriller-zero-dark-thirty/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Action-Thriller "Zero Dark Thirty"." August 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-action-thriller-zero-dark-thirty/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Action-Thriller "Zero Dark Thirty"'. 25 August.

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