Monday, January 21, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I saw "Zero Dark Thirty" tonight. The movie was a cerebral experience for me rather than an emotional one. It reminded me a lot of "Munich."

I found the film to be extremely impressive and very powerful. The message that I walked out with was how appreciative I need to be of my country and of my military.

Back when Obama was running his reelection campaign, he was making much of the fact that he gave the kill order on Osama Bin Laden. I, alongside many other Americans, I would wager, didn't really understand why that was such a big deal. Of course you would give the kill order on a man like that. What's the big deal?

But this film illustrates exactly why that was a big deal. According to the film (and assuming this is true), there was no positive confirmation Osama was even in that compound. It could have been someone high up in Al Quaida, but there was no definitive visual or voacal proof that it was Osama himself. If the operation had gone badly, it could have been publicly embarrassing for America. But Obama gave the kill order even though there wasn't that proof.

For me, the film also showed why we need to value our military. I'm sure a lot of us thought, "Well, it's about time" when they finally caught Osama 10 years later. But what we didn't realize is that there were so many leads, and so many tips, and people who needed to track them all down. People who lost loved ones in the process. People who got burnt out. People who didn't eat or sleep without thinking about this mission, this goal. All kinds of intricate people who were involved in the process until we finally got to the place where we could execute this man.

A lot of people are talking about this film in order to discuss torture and whether or not torture ought to be used. I think that misses the point. Yes, that is one aspect of the film. But that is not the film. The film shows the labyrinth that is created, the intricate ways in which the government worked to piece together the final data as to where Osama was living and how to take him down. Something interesting that one of the main characters pointed out was that they could have taken out the compound with a bomb, but instead they sent in SEALs. People had to risk their lives in order to kill this man- it wasn't just drop-a-bomb-and-be-done.

I was thinking, as I was watching the film, that a movie like this needs to be made about molestation. The Nechemya Weberman case especially came to mind. I can imagine a brilliant screenplay that takes the same concept as this film, which is the number of people needed to fulfill a mission, and uses it to talk about molestation. The film could begin with the girl in counseling at her new high school, her therapist treating her for PTSD. Finally, the girl confesses she was molested and runs out of the room. We then see the girl being evaluated by three separate analysts, each of whom grill her in order to make sure she is telling the truth and not lying. We see the girl decide to accuse Weberman. We see Weberman's supporters threaten the family; we see the repercussions as her family members are kicked out of school. We see the fundraiser held in order to defray Weberman's legal expenses. We see the prosecutor in the case, working tirelessly to try to ensure that this girl's story is heard. We hear the audio of the Satmar Rebbe talking about Dinah and low women. We see the girl in the courtroom, on the stand, see her called up, see the jury's faces, see Weberman's face. We hear from bloggers and news reporters who are covering the case and who have very disparate views. The movie closes after the 'Guilty' verdict, with the girl's face, an expression of triumph and relief. But wait- it's not over yet- there's one more scene where we hear the community talking about how it's anti-Semitism that this verdict got passed, we see the Vaad HaTznius still standing there and we realize nothing has truly changed.

If someone were to make a film like this about molestation, then the audience would finally see what it means to accuse someone, take it all the way to trial, and then get the guilty verdict. They would realize how difficult it is- as difficult, in its own way, as hunting down Osama Bin Laden. They would see the price that is paid, the casualties of daring to make the accusation. And they would walk out of the film changed people, in the same way that I am now so much more appreciative of our military. They would see the strength of the victim, not just the way in which she was harmed. That's what we need to give the viewers- the ability to see how complicated these trials are, in the same way the search for this evil man was.


Critically Observant Jew said...

There's at least one part missing to this story: the girl's parents. Who in their right mind would not question "the therapist" after daughter having 4 hour session, much less so after being extorted $12k? What kind of parents would allow that? Is it a cult mentality or what?

therapydoc said...

Yet another movie that I want to see. Where do we get the time?

Disagree. said...

This kind of movie you suggest would further serve to brand all Chassidim extremely negatively. Most Chassidim are fine decent people.
Heck, you married one.

Not to mention the sad fact that too many Gentiles tend to paint ALL Jews with the same brush.

This sort of movie would do more good than harm only if we could get those chassidim to watch it. (Fat chance.)

Otherwise, the actors need not be playing chassidim. Just any regular close knit community in "Smalltown, USA".

Anonymous said...

A good movie would paint chassidim in all their complexity. It would show how some chassidim in the community supported the victim. I think that it would paint chassidim in a bad light only if it was badly done.

Benzie said...

There is a movie - Trust, though it is not about Jews nor does it follow your plot, but it is very powerful.

Buy it at

Disagree. said...

Dear Anonymous,
We can count on Hollywood to do it "badly".
They rarely portray Chassidim in a way that doesn't make me cringe.

Sara Gold said...

I would add a twist to the story, it would make it much more interesting.

a. I would not believe the media and take the time to speak with Nechemya Weberman's family. I would hear how the last words she said to Nechemya when she left his office was,"I will get back at you!".j

b. I would ask for the transcripts of the trial and see how her testimony did not match to the one she gave to the police officer. I would also see how she "conveniently" couldn't recall a lot of things she had said or e-mailed. I would also see that the judge (or Hines) did not allow many pieces of evidence from Weberman to be shown to the jury.

c. I would look at Hines' political motivations and why he desperately needed to convict a Hasidic Jew on sexual molestation charges.

I would base the movie on these findings.