CATEGORIES Movie NewsWhile most of the controversy over "Zero Dark Thirty" -- Kathryn Bigelow's account of America's hunt for, and ultimate assassination of, Osama bin Laden -- centered around the film's graphic depiction of torture, much speculation swirled around just how big a role the Central Intelligence Agency played in shaping the script. Now, in a newly released declassified document, the CIA details several specific instances in which they requested screenwriter Mark Boal change or eliminate scenes because the agency claimed they were not true to life.
In a series of conference calls, Boal "verbally shared the screenplay," the memo said. "The purpose for these discussions," the memo continued, "was for OPA [Office of Public Affairs] officers to help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Ladin operation."
In the original draft of the film, main character Maya (played by Jessica Chastain) participates in a torture scene where a prisoner is waterboarded and shoved into a small box. The CIA requested this be changed, because "substantive debriefers [i.e. Maya] did not administer [Enhanced Interrogation Techniques]."
The CIA also asked that another interrogation scene using a dog as an antagonist be removed, claiming the agency doesn't apply such tactics. (Though their use by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay has been documented extensively.)
Another scene requested for removal depicted a rooftop party in Islamabad, "where an officer, after drinking, fires a celebratory burst of AK-47 gunfire into the air," the memo said. "We insisted mixing drinking and firearms is a major violation and actions like this do not happen in real life."
In response to the memo, Boal acknowledged his cooperation with the agency, but denied their input detracted from the final product.
"We honored certain requests to keep operational details and the identity of the participants confidential," he said. "But as with any publication or work of art, the final decisions as to the content were made by the filmmakers."
To read the full memo, head over to Gawker.