Members of the Senate have called Zero Dark Thirty, Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigalow's Bin Laden movie, "grossly inaccurate" in its portrayal of US-sanctioned torture. In a letter to Sony Pictures Entertainment, Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) said the movie was a "deep disappointment," labeling it "misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location" of the Al Qaeda leader.
"People who see 'Zero Dark Thirty' will believe that the events it portrays are facts."
Zero Dark Thirty is labelled as a fictitious work, but opens with a note claiming it's based on first-hand accounts of actual events, which the senators argue blurs the lines between fact and fiction. "People who see Zero Dark Thirty will believe that the events it portrays are facts... [it] has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner." Bigalow and screenwriter Mark Boal say that the movie depicts "a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding Bin Laden," but "shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt." They argue that a "single scene taken in isolation" doesn't "fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes."
The senators ask Sony to consider correcting the movie, which is already on limited release in the US and will be internationally distributed in January. It's worth noting that the letter does not dispute that the torture happened; the senators only want to alter the impression it was a direct precursor to Bin Laden's death last year. Although the concerns raised are directly related to present-day American public opinion, there must be a worry that Bigalow's fictionalized movie be seen by some as a historical document, especially when data on torture practices will remain confidential for the foreseeable future.