In case you were wondering why Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty isn’t on the short list of eligible documentaries in this year’s Academy Awards race, it’s because the director’s intense, seemingly thorough procedural on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden isn’t actually a documentary at all.
I mean, I’m sure most of us could have figured that out on our own. The presence of actors like Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke and Kyle Chandler give it away. But acting CIA director Michael Morell felt the need to clarify that detail – and a few other points – in a press release circulated over the weekend
Morell jumps on a bandwagon driven by senators like John McCain claiming the depiction of torture employed by our military in the hunt for Bin Laden as overstated. “What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts,” he states. “CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.”
Morell then went on to document the various ways that Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal drifted from the facts.
The filmmakers attributed the actions of our entire Agency -- and the broader Intelligence Community -- to just a few individuals,” Morell wrote. “This may make for more compelling entertainment, but it does not reflect the facts. The success of the May 1st 2011 operation was a team effort -- and a very large team at that.”
Me thinks he doth protest too much. Seriously, did we need the CIA to come out and tell us that ZDT is a movie, and not a documentary? By weighing in at all, the CIA leads me to believe that there is more accuracy on screen than I might have imagined before this statement went out. You’ll be able to get your own look at Zero Dark Thirty, an Oscar contender that’s generating a ton of headlines, when it opens in limited release at the end of this year.