Kathryn Bigelow on “Zero Dark Thirty” Torture Scenes: Depiction Is Not Endorsement

Oscar winning director addresses controversy around her latest movie

Since “Zero Dark Thirty,” the most recent film from Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow, came out in limited release, there’s been a lot of talk about “enhanced interrogation” methods and whether Bigelow’s portraying them in the film is actually a silent but not so subtle endorsement.

In other words, by including scenes of torture in a film about how Osama bin Laden was captured, Bigelow might have been saying that this was the way to do counter-terrorism, angry voices said – and are still saying to this day.

In a column on the Los Angeles Times, Bigelow addresses the controversy to say one should never mistake art and its depiction of gruesome scenes with an actual endorsement of violence.

“Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time,” she writes.

“This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist’s ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation,” Bigelow continues.

She doesn’t deny that “enhanced interrogation” was used in the early years of the bin Laden search but she’s adamant that she never wanted to portray it as the only and best fitting method for success.

More from Kathryn Bigelow on the topic here.

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