“’Zero Dark Thirty’ is the most vile and immoral war film I’ve seen in years” — Noam Sheizaf


☞ After my postings on truthfulness in Zero Dark Thirty, I decided to temporarily exclude further postings on the film, as it was already prominent on this blog, as seen in the tag cloud. Subsequently, the film has also been mentioned in further articles that I have excerpted on this site. But one article simply refuses to go away: the following review by the Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf. I decided, finally, to post an extract from it. Like Michael Wolff’s review of the film, it goes beyond the criticism of the film’s factual deviations, by asserting that its apparent moral message is abhorrent. Making a surprising comparison with Israeli movies, Sheizaf finds that Bigelow’s film disastrously loses its moral argument by not only enjoying and fetishising the violence it depicts (which even the CIA claims is overboard and inaccurate), but also by justifying and rationalising it. In this light, the historical deviations may very well serve the purpose of enabling the presentation of a morally dubious perspective, which would have been moderated if a more truthful account was given.

❝“Revenge of the agonized killers” would have been a more appropriate title.❞ — Sheizaf

“Sometime in the late 1960s, Israeli cinema stopped producing heroic war stories – the kind of action or drama movies where the protagonist serves his country, noble against a powerful and cruel enemy. The quantity of other such works of fiction – in literature, for example – dropped as well. Which, when you think about it, is kind of weird for a country that has a war every few years and needs to reinforce its own ethos. Instead, Israeli popular culture started producing a different genre – that of the confessions. Here, the protagonists or story-tellers were usually trying to come to terms with the terrible things they were forced to do to – by their COs, by politicians or by circumstances, but never of their own choice. The genre even earned a name: “shooting and crying. “ It all seemed brave – but it wasn’t, since our heroes never assumed responsibility for their actions. The real perpetrators were others: generals, right-wing radicals, fools – and sometimes it was simply the Arabs’ fault. Sure enough, all those groups didn’t make movies. It was the lefty cultural elites that needed absolution, or at least explanation for the things they did (with much enthusiasm) – usually while continuing to do them. Today I would rather have a right wing that is proud of the occupation than an agonized lefty. You don’t want to do something, don’t do it. In the left-wing protests in recent years you can often hear chants of, “don’t shoot, don’t cry – get out of the territories now,” urging people to take responsibility for their actions.

Now I must say this – in decades of watching Israeli and international war cinema, I don’t remember a film as immoral, vile and self-righteous as Zero Dark Thirty. This narcissistic movie, with all its aesthetic portraits of torture and assassinations, not only enjoys and fetishizes the violence it depicts but also justifies and rationalizes it.”

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One response »

  1. Pingback: In praise of “heroic victims” who defeat villains | power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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