x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Zero amounts to a lot of controversy

Entertaining film or no, Zero Dark Thirty has divided opinion over its torture scenes. But with much of the controversy being discussed in the West, what did viewers in the region think?

The accuracy of Zero Dark Thirty.has been questioned. AP Photo / Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Jonathan Olley
The accuracy of Zero Dark Thirty.has been questioned. AP Photo / Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Jonathan Olley

Unless you've just returned from a lengthy polar expedition, you may have heard about a certain film called Zero Dark Thirty and the fact it has ruffled at least a few feathers here and there. While the story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden was never going to be as contention-free as, say, Big Momma's House, the film has come under extreme fire for its suggestion that US-endorsed torture led to the capture of the Al Qaeda chief in Abbottabad, something that many think may have cost Kathryn Bigelow her nomination for Best Director.

But while much of the debate surrounding the film has been going on in the US, little has been heard from the region, where the film screened - seemingly uncensored - at the end of January. Several in the Middle East said they refused to see it, but what did those who did watch the movie, think?

"It's an amazing movie," says Mohammed Mustafa, a Palestinian living in Abu Dhabi. "I might understand people who are talking about the torture, but from my perspective, if you want to save your country, save your people, sometimes you are obliged to do such stuff. Maybe it's exaggerated in the film, but I'm not against it."

"We didn't see anyone getting killed by the torture, which I think in itself is something," says Maher Bahloul, a professor at the American University of Sharjah. "But we did see some really hard torture scenes, which contradicted what the US administration was trying to say. I think everyone felt horrified by the torture scenes, wherever they were."

But Bahloul also points to Jessica Chastain's character, the only one with the determination that eventually led to the tracking of bin Laden. "I think in this part of the world, it's something that women here might feel quite astonished and proud at the same time."

aritman@thenational.ae

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