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Kathryn Bigelow Opens Up About ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Torture and Truth on TIME Cover Story and Colbert Report

Kathryn Bigelow Opens Up About 'Zero Dark Thirty,' Torture and Truth on TIME Cover Story and Colbert Report

In addition to her appearance on the Colbert Report (watch below), “Zero Dark Thirty” director Kathryn Bigelow is the center of this week’s TIME cover story, “Art of Darkness.” The director, who rarely speaks with the press, is opening up to deal with and defend herself against the controversy surrounding “ZDT” and its torture debate. In the magazine’s history, twelve directors have appeared on its cover–Bigelow is the second woman after Jodie Foster in 1991.

Included in the interview are comments from “ZDT” star Jessica Chastain, screenwriter Mark Boal, plus Jamie Lee Curtis and Willem Dafoe.

TIME’s Jessica Winter states;

“Like a white-on-white canvas, Zero Dark Thirty has become a projection screen for the audience’s perceptions and sympathies, taking on different colors and contours depending on what the viewer brings to it. And though the debate over the U.S.’s use of torture has been pursued and inflamed in endless articles as well as books and television series (nonfiction and fiction alike), none have been as high-profile or as lavishly funded and marketed as Zero Dark Thirty, and none have borne the imprimatur of the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, as Bigelow did for ‘The Hurt Locker.'”

Highlights from the interview are below:

Bigelow, on the controversial “ZDT”: “This territory has been controversial since the early part of the decade, so I knew that the film was going to be controversial, though perhaps I didn’t anticipate this kind of volume…. I feel we got it right. I’m proud of the movie, and I stand behind it completely. I think that it’s a deeply moral movie that questions the use of force. It questions what was done in the name of finding bin Laden.”

“If you pick challenging, contemporaneous subjects that create controversy and noise around them, it puts you with Apocalypse Now, All the President’s Men, A Clockwork Orange, In the Heat of the Night,Battle of Algiers. That’s some very good company….Once you’ve opened the window on topical material, it’s very hard to close it. Holding up a contemporary mirror is more attractive to me now than ever.”

On accuracy and ambiguity: “Where there’s clarity in the world, there’s clarity in the film. Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan. That’s clarity. And where there’s ambiguity in the world, there’s ambiguity in the film.”

Boal: “If the general impression you get from this movie is that torture played a role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, that’s because that’s true. That’s a fact. It doesn’t mean they had to torture people or that torture is necessary or torture is morally right.”

Chastain: “I believe that was Kathryn’s intention when she made the film—to open a conversation. She ends it with an un­answered question, Where do you want to go? She’s asking the audience, Where have we been, and where do we go from here?”

Dafoe: “She’s attracted to something instinctively, and then she researches it, and her research becomes an adventure. In the late ’70s there was a lot of interest in rockabilly and appreciation of ’50s outlaw culture, so she would go to clubs to scout people for their look and style, and worry about coaxing a performance out of them later. She was so interested in the slang and the idiom and the ritual of that world, which wasn’t really of her own experience. And she’s still interested in learning the language and rituals of hidden worlds. Just look at her titles—Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty. It’s like coded language and she’s cracking the code.”

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