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Zero Dark Thirty

09/04/2013

What really got me was the name, I had no idea what it meant until I looked it up – ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is the military slang for an unspecified time in the early hours of the morning before dawn and it is relative here as the film is about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s quarters which took place between midnight and two o’clock in the morning.
Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘ Zero Dark Thirty’ is a sequence of events formulating the hunt and capture of Osama Bin Laden (or OBL as they refer throughout).

As a current student of both drama and politics I was exceptionally excited to see this as it combined two of my major interests so here is my personal – and skeptical view – as far as characters and delivery are concerned.

But first I have to state that ANY movie or documentary that plays an informative role in educating the world about terrorist leaders, is imperative to our society. All teenagers that our not knowledgeable about current events should watch and learn as men like bin Laden need to be remembered and we need to prevent these figures from taking power and threatening our society again. Awareness is the key to prevention and this film brings home how important the actions of those Navy Seals were.

Maya the protagonist has been criticised by many, the Daily Mail Newspaper referred to her character as “pretty much a blank canvas, certainly not a living, multi-¬‐faceted character like Claire Danes’s equally driven CIA agent in TV’s Homeland.” Yet her colleagues could not resist calling her a ‘killer’ and ‘smart’ throughout the film. Maya is a CIA agent who was pulled out of high school and has solely worked on the OBL case during her entire career. We are first introduced to her character during the first torture scene of which she stands cross armed staring sympathetically at the victim. Throughout the film she remains indifferent and we rarely see any outcries of emotion, she is determined and instinctive. Nothing seems to thwart her fixation of locating the ‘big man’. And when a close friend and operative is caught in the Camp Chapman attack on 30th December 2009 – this seems to motivate and drive Maya on to find bin laden. This further portrays her as stoic, unrealistic and immortal to some degree, someone who has spent a decade of their life continuously failing and hitting dead ends however, Maya remains mentally and physically intact. I felt like we were waiting for her at some point to break down, for her achilles heal to be caught out and for her to quit -‐ but that does not happen, she is merely a robot – persistent, resolute and with no weak point.

I found that the film as a whole does not have a free flowing, narrative. It starts with a nostalgic and dramatic reference to 9/11 -¬‐ with a blank screen and emergency calls playing. From then on the film is simply just landmark events leading up to the capture of bin laden in the form of a documentary.

I think the film acts as an impartial view of the hunt. It is so factually based so lacks the fundamental and crucial moral questions which I feel are a necessity to all films. All of the characters bar Maya are mediocre and lack depth or strength of real personality. It’s as if they have just been physically placed there for a genre change.

However, for entertainment and factual purposes, yes the film was a spectacle. All the action scenes were enjoyable and as far as I am concerned it gives an accurate depiction of the hunt of bin Laden which is great for all of those that aren’t so into counterterrorism news!