Focus on triumphalism as Oscar winner gets ready to dramatise the killing of Osama bin Laden

Share this article
Have your say

There was a five-year gap between the attacks on the World Trade Center and the first movie about the events of that day. Not much of a gap, admittedly, but it was enough.

No such worries about the killing of Osama bin Laden, which occurred just nine months ago. A movie, to be directed by Hurt Locker helmer Kathryn Bigelow, is being rushed into production as I write.

There may have been whispers that 9/11 was a taboo subject to be treated with sensitivity and respect; Osama bin Laden’s bloody demise will receive a quite different treatment.

Australian actor Guy Pearce, plus brothers Joel and Nash Edgerton, have been signed up, with stuntman/actor Nash on board to play an elite Navy SEAL.

Female roles will be taken by Jennifer Ehle – aka Elizabeth Bennet from TV’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice, starring a certain Colin Firth – and Jessica (The Help) Chastain.

Notwithstanding Ms Ehle, Brit talent also includes Tom Hardy, Idris Elba and Mark Strong, the brooding, saturnine star of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, who may well be tagged as the al-Qaida leader.

Bigelow is once again teamed with Hurt Locker scribe Mark Boal, and the pair have had to cope with accusations that they have been cosying up to the White House – a key collaborator on the project.

Yet Bigelow has claimed she was already working on an adaptation of the book Kill bin Laden before US soldiers caught and killed their quarry. News of his demise merely speeded up production, with the script updated and re-jigged.

Claims that the Obama administration had leaked information about this most classified of missions have been strenuously denied and prompted the CIA to release a statement clarifying its long-standing role in working with artists and filmmakers.

“The CIA has been open that as part of our public outreach, the agency has over the years engaged with writers, documentary film-makers and TV producers and others in the entertainment industry,” a spokeswoman said recently.

It wasn’t enough to quell the disquiet surrounding the film, which is understood to be titled Zero Dark and there continues to be much comment about the timing of the film, which will be released around the next US election.

Bigelow and Boal have described the mission that ended bin Laden’s life and influence as “an American triumph” and have protested that their film will not “represent this enormous victory otherwise”.

How should one respond to this film? If Bigelow and Boal are to be believed, then the assassination of Osama bin Laden was merely a coincidence, albeit of planet-stopping importance, at a time when their movie was already speeding ahead.

Yet one suspects that the still untitled picture may suffer from the same cloying patriotism and jingoistic flag-waving that afflicts so many Stateside dramas about men at war.

Triumphalism may well sully this hybrid of detective story, black ops thriller, biopic and wartime drama. There was a whiff of that around United 93 and World Trade Center. The bin Laden movie will be drenched with it.