PRINT January 2013



Still from Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, 2012, digital video, color, sound, 156 minutes.

THE SETUP of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty puts you in the last place in the world you’d ever want to be. Over a black, empty screen, we hear a sound collage of phone calls made from the Twin Towers after they were hit, ending with a young woman’s plaintive “I’m going to die, aren’t I?” and the whispered “Oh, my God” of the 911 operator as she loses the connection. It is an opening even more immersive than that of Bigelow’s previous film, The Hurt Locker (2008), where we find ourselves looking through the lens of a video camera mounted on a remote-controlled “bot” as it hurtles along a chaotic Baghdad street toward a confrontation with an IED. Both films immediately kick you in the solar plexus and never let up. The seven daredevil features Bigelow directed before she ever set foot in Iraq or Afghanistan all have thrilling passages of bravura filmmaking, but nothing like the

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