[Marxism] David Bromwich on "Zero Dark Thirty"
d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Sat Feb 2 19:21:34 MST 2013
David Bromwich wrote in the Huffington *Post : "/Zero Dark Thirty/ is
tense and well-paced"
This may be true for an American audience, but is certainly not true for
a European audience. On the contrary, Zero Dark Thirty appears as a
tedious exercice in obscuring any relevant facts that may help
understand the situation in Afghanistan/Pakistan.
As though a remake of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" was produced without
any scenes explaining the divergent views of those at the top of MI6 and
limited to scenes of Smiley in his office. Uninformative.
Bromwich compares the film to "The Hurt Locker" and to "Salvador"
Well, Stone's "Salvador" is much more "tense and well-paces" AND shows
us scenes of the fascist villains planning the execution of the Catholic
priest (one of the fascists is dramatically handed the bullet). And
shows us how the community is divided between leftists and rightists.
And shows us that the rightists are mostly poor people who are recruited
as part of a White Terror. And shows us the hypocrisy of the US embassy
staff and the US media who purposely chose to ignore the massacres.
After watching Salvador, we know more about US involvement in Central
America than before we entered the cinema.
The same applies to "the Hurt Locker". The audience understand the
psychological trauma of IEDs. They realize that the distinction between
combatant and non-combatant can become blurred in an insurgency-type
warfare where booby-traps are awaiting soldiers at every corner.
In contrast, "Zero Dark Thirty" does not show anything interesting or
worthwhile. What the audience really wants to know is WHO is Bin Laden,
HOW his AL Quaeda network operates, WHAT HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
PAKISTANIS WAS, WHY the CIA did not catch him earlier, etc. None of
these questions is examined in the film.
Instead, we have Maya, the main character, interrogate a guy using
techniques that would reasonably constitute torture (but are more
psychological than physical),. Then we have her discussing the info with
"the brass" ("he is a courier so Ben Laden must be in Pakistan"). Then
we have her using a dry-wipe marker to scribble the number of days since
news of Ben Laden's whereabouts was confirmed on a glass partition. We
also have her declaring "everything changed on µ/11" and "I want him
dead". We have one scene in which a suicide bomber blows himself up
inside a CIA run compound in Afghanistan.
And that's it. The only interesting bit is the last 30 minutes in which
the assault on Bin Laden's compound is filmed in great detail. The
military techniques are of interest to those who like to witness special
op forces in action, although they are also quite devoid of any meaning.
They rappel onto the roof, use explosive charges to blow up the doors,
kill every male in sight using silencers (zip zip zip), and exit with
Bin Laden's body. As mindless and inpersonnel robots they are superb and
the pride of the US army.
But the film is grossly lacking in pace. It is unidimensional to a point
that is beyond belief : THERE IS NO FLESH AND BLOOD ENEMY ! Not even a
group of Jihadists discussing anything. And the main characters are
caricatures (the operatives who practice torture and recoup data) and
their lives are unspeakably dull. And what is worse, the evidence they
uncover is never analysed in any geo-strategical depth (the only
preoccupation is the wherabouts of Bin Laden) and does not lead to any
So the film is meant as a look into the practice of torture and to
elicit responses from the American viewing public. Fine, it has achieved
its objective. Although apart from waterboarding no physical torture is
shown, and more importantly, the intimate effects of torture on the
victim are not shown (the victims are only produced for those scenes and
play no other part in the plot).
I personally have never watched such an appalling "war film" slash
"espionnage movie". If this is to be the standard for future war movies
in the 2010s, I think I shall abstain from spending my hard-earned cash
on such boring tripe coming from the US of A.
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