Zero Dark Thirty and CIA: another plot twist
The controversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty has still not gone away.
Early this year, a US senate committee launched an investigation to discover whether the film-makers had been granted “inappropriate access” to classified CIA material. The committee suspended its activities after discovering nothing of significance.
It has, however, now been claimed that the CIA did successfully pressurise Mark Boal, the film’s writer, into removing certain scenes that could have cast the organisation in an even less flattering light. Most significantly, the original script apparently had Maya, the protagonist, actually participating in water-boarding torture rather than merely observing from the sidelines. A scene in which CIA operatives celebrate on a rooftop – discharging AK-47’s wildly in the air – is also believed to have been excised. The information emerged in a memo released under the US’s Freedom of Information laws.
Boal, an experienced journalist, offered a fairly canny spin on the revelations. “We honoured certain requests to keep operational details and the identity of the participants confidential,” he said. “But, as with any publication or work of art, the final decisions as to the content were made by the film-makers.”
The kerfuffle scares up some interesting questions about how the CIA perceives itself. Does the organisation really believe that the film as it stands presents a happy picture of that intelligence body? Spooks are spooky people.
Don’t look now: Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty