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Ken Loach Calls Film Critics “Stupid”

Ken Loach Calls Film Critics "Stupid"

Our sister blog The Playlist has an interview from the Berlinale with director Ken Loach, who was premiering his new documentary, “The Spirit of 45,” at the festival. Amidst other comments about socialism and fiction versus non-fiction filmmaking, the conversation came around to the nature of directorial bias. When asked about whether he was worried of being accused of bias with his film, he turned the question back around and asked interviewer Jessica Kiang if she believed “‘Zero Dark Thirty’… or all these other pro-CIA films where the white American is the hero” were biased. And then he answered his own question:

“Of course they are, they’re massively biased, but the bias is more subtle. But the critics are so stupid they don’t see it and that stuns me. I mean, why would anybody want to make a film about the hunting down and killing of somebody? The purpose is to keep the devil alive, to keep the devil of Bin Laden alive — this one’s still got some mileage.

Loach would not be the first (or second, or twentieth) person to accuse “Zero Dark Thirty” of pro-American or pro-CIA bias, or to accuse critics of being too dopey to see said bias. Of course, the CIA itself didn’t think “Zero Dark Thirty” was a pro-CIA movie (acting agency director Michael Morell wrote a letter to all CIA employees outlining the film’s “false” impressions). And I didn’t find the film to be a particularly positive portrait of America or its government and intelligence agencies. But maybe that letter is a CIA black op or something. Or, y’know, I’m stupid.

Read more of “Berlin Interview: Ken Loach Says Critics Missed ‘Bias’ of ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Talks ‘Spirit of 45,’ Sexiness of Socialism & More.”

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Barry Williams

"Or, y'know, I'm stupid."

No, I have a feeling it's Mr. Loach that's stupid. He's displayed a reprehensible level of anti-West, anti-American, anti-EVERYTHING sentiment over the years.

It seems that the only thing he isn't anti at the moment is hardline islamo-fascist apologising.

Amazing what an Oxford education can do to one's sensibilities.

Arnold Schizopolis

I wonder if Ken Loached liked Syriana.


I find film critics funny cause they judge films but have they ever tried to make one? Probably not.


Sounds like a good movie though…. Hope I get the part… :-)


I respect Ken Loach fight for the small man but I was at his casting agent today auditioning for their search for a west of Ireland man and the casting agent seemed dismissive when she learned I was financially sufficient irrespective of my acting career. I worked hard for it from nothing.
Doesn't his subjects have the same goal? Or are we to remain the victims of circumstances? Not where I come from….


Partially related: Richard Brody delivers another very interesting piece

I Seriously Hope You Guys Ross Douthat

"these other pro-CIA films where the white American is the hero"

Cool argument for a sophomore I guess?

"I mean, why would anybody want to make a film about the hunting down and killing of somebody?"

Extremely reductive. Not many films are just "about" their plot, and Bigelow's certainly isn't. But I guess the straight answer is that it is quite interesting?

"The purpose is to keep the devil alive, to keep the devil of Bin Laden alive — this one’s still got some mileage."

This is pretty twattish and vaguely truther-y too, kind of? No-one accused Loach of "keeping alive the devil" of the Black and Tans when he made "The Wind that Shakes the Barley". The subtext is that the US needs devils to keep people in line, hence this one still has "mileage", which is a bit like saying Islamist terrorism is a creation of the US. Which is actually a pretty common attitude on the British far left.


The cluelessness among most film critics when it comes to properly assessing the ridiculously overrated Zero Dark Thirty was astounding indeed. I don't know if it is a question of stupidity though. It's more a lack of political awareness and interest in the world at large if you ask me. But I can at the same time understand Loach's contempt for most critics. As someone who has been making films about social issues and portraying all types of struggle for equality and justice I can imagine him reacting to the fanboy embrace of a coldblooded home-front weepy made to bolster American's belief in the imperial war machine like ZD30.

Bigelow told all of us to "never forget" and she gave us a slowly paced Call-Of-Duty rip-off, with all the "right" doses of cinematic ingredients that are oh so popular in contemporary genre cinema, like forced grittiness and bogus ambiguity to make critics with liberal sensitive feel good about themselves and their true thoughts about American foreign policies.


As a Loach fan I admit he got carried out, and the whole "stupid" thing is outta line. Then again that's a reaction on the spot, no need to make a big deal out of it right? I mean, no offense but the above quote is far less important than the omitted following sentence which let's face it (as the Internet would say) kinda nails it: "Art comes from a particular time, from a particular culture, a particular perspective, that’s all contained within those pro-American films."

As a distant observer (!) my experience is that torture and feminism overshadowed issues about CIA/America in Zero Dark's reception. There are exceptions obviously. Actually fellow Indiewire blog ReelPolitik nailed it too when pointing out that Maya, as a character, was a great way to break the rules of your basic male-fronted (and biased) actioner.

Edward Copeland

Every film, from the very best to lowliest turd, is made mostly because that's what the people who wanted to make them wanted. You can call that bias if you like, but that seems like a loaded word to me that's completely out of context when you're talking about most fictional narratives. Sure, there are exceptions where movies based on true stories might not paint real people in the most flattering light or gloss over the warts of others, but people such as Loach who insist on viewing every film in a political or sociological context always drive me crazy. As for critics, undoubtedly some "stupid" ones exist in their ranks (I'm not naming names), but every single one of them is biased. If they aren't and just rattle off a summary of a movie without any subjective opinion about whether they liked or disliked its various aspects, they aren't doing the job right.

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