Tag Archives: aesthetics

Brody on Zero Dark Thirty

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Still from Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty

“If “Zero Dark Thirty” is a roller-coaster ride, it’s one with blinkers, one that keeps its viewer facing forward and allows no glance away from the action. There’s no ideological context for bin Laden or those suspected of association with Al Qaeda; there’s also no doctrinal, or, for that matter, personal context for the protagonist. Did Maya not have sex for ten years? Did she have no family with whom she communicates, no friends with whom she discusses her work, her obsession with catching bin Laden, her ideas about life in general? What did she put on hold in her pursuit for bin Laden? It’s revealed, near the end of the movie, that she was recruited for the C.I.A. right out of high school; why was she recruited? Why did she accept? The character isn’t just a cipher but a filtered-out cipher, reduced to her function as the chief bin Laden hunter. This is the way that all of the movie’s characters are depicted, and the choice isn’t just a way of keeping the narrative energy juiced; it’s a fundamental matter of aesthetics, an element of an aesthetic ideology that, for all the primal pleasure afforded by the movie, leaves it less than an empty experience—turns it into a deceptive one.”

Read more: “The Deceptive Emptiness of Zero Dark Thirty

☞ Brody’s view that Zero Dark Thirty‘s aesthetics deceptively blocks its more complete ideological contexts from being realised, reminds one of one’s response to Bigelow’s earlier film, The Hurt Locker .

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