Entertainment & Arts

Kathryn Bigelow defends Zero Dark Thirty torture scenes

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Media captionDirector Kathryn Bigelow has defended the depiction of torture in her latest film Zero Dark Thirty, a dramatisation of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

Director Kathryn Bigelow has defended the depiction of torture in her latest film Zero Dark Thirty, a dramatisation of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

"It's part of the story," she told the BBC's Will Gompertz. "To omit it would have been whitewashing history."

Yet Bigelow insisted her movie does not suggest the al-Qaeda leader would not have been located without so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques".

"That's a misrepresentation of the film," said the Hurt Locker film-maker.

Zero Dark Thirty has drawn criticism from within the US government with some senators complaining it perpetuates "the myth that torture is effective".

However, the film, she said, shows "a pretty wide array of tactics" being used over the 10 years it took to identify Bin Laden's hiding place.

The terrorist was eventually tracked down to a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the storming of which by US Navy Seals in May 2011 forms the climax of Bigelow's drama.

The raid, she said, was "an incredibly diligent, incredibly complex and successful operation that brought the world's most dangerous man to justice".

The film, which Bigelow describes as "a portrait of dedication, determination, commitment and sacrifice", is released in the UK and Ireland on 25 January.

On Sunday, Jessica Chastain was named best actress in a drama at the Golden Globes for her portrayal of the CIA agent orchestrating the manhunt.

Chastain will also be up for best actress at the Oscars, one of five nominations the film has received from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Image caption Bigelow previously worked with screenwriter Mark Boal (r) on The Hurt Locker

Yet Bigelow - who won a best director Oscar in 2010 for The Hurt Locker, a portrait of bomb disposal experts in Iraq - is not in contention for the same honour for her follow-up film.

It has been suggested that the controversy the film has provoked in the US may have damaged the film-maker's chances of further Oscar glory.

Despite this, the 61-year-old said she "wouldn't change the film at all". "I stand by it totally," she told the BBC's arts editor.

More important than her film winning awards was that "audiences are embracing it".

"That's why you make a movie," she said.

Bigelow described her film as "an insight into a long, dark decade" that began with the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001.

"Our hope was to capture the essence of that decade and make a movie that stands the test of time."

Both she and screenwriter Mark Boal regard Zero Dark Thirty - named after a military term for half past midnight - as "a first draft of history".

"Hopefully the story will continue to be debated," she continued. "My hope is there'll be many more renderings of this story."

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