And….here we go. Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s movie about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, got its first public showing on Sunday in Los Angeles and early reviews are incredibly positive.
Bigelow and Boal were interviewed last night on ABC’s Nightline. Correspondent Martha Radditz called the movie “riveting” and gave the duo a chance to deny accusations that their screenplay was based on illegally leaked classified information.
The filmmakers tie their story to the experiences of a female CIA operative they call “Maya” in the film. She seems to be based on the same woman who figures so prominently in the “Mark Owen” book No Easy Day. Bigelow is one of our best action directors and early reports suggest her movie is a sober, unemotional take on the subject that emphasizes military process over patriotism.
Not everyone wants to see a movie like this get made and a whole lot of folks don’t like the fact that it’s impossible to make any kind of based-on-a-true story film without taking liberties with specific details. I look at it this way: Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a fantastic movie that tells us a lot about American history and the messy behind-the-scenes horse trading that creates our laws. Does everything shown on screen represent an accurate portrayal of exactly how the 14th Amendment got passed? Of course not, but the filmmakers use real-life events as a frame to make a compelling work of art about the American character.
The Abbottabad raid might be a little to close to the present day for some of you to see it that way, but the nearly real-time arrival of this movie (less than 19 months after the actual event) represents a creative risk that might yield something amazing. We’ll find out in a few weeks when the movie hits theaters.