#TypesTuesday – Zero Dark Thirty and Power of Conscience

Tuesday Types

In Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Katherine Bigelow, a young CIA operative called Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, is obsessed with finding and killing Osama Bin Ladin, a terrorist.

She is involved in morally reprehensible torture and criminal violence to track down and have her quarry killed.  She is driven and relentless, so much so that when she is successful she has no idea what to do next. And we have to ask, what does her immoral activity make her? Hero or war criminal?

Bigelow explains in an interview:

“I think what’s so interesting and so poignant for Jessica, myself, for all of us, is this idea that this woman (Maya) has spent the last ten years exclusively in the pursuit of one man and yes, at the end of the day, she triumphed, but it’s not a victory because finally, at the end of the day, you’re left with much larger questions like, where does she go from here? Where do we go from here? Now what?” Chastain adds, “I find that to end the film on that question is far more interesting than providing an answer.”

Power of Conscience characters wrestle with how far they should go in seeking justice or in standing up against evil or wrongdoing.  The question is: what is the higher duty and what exactly is required of them in response. In their Dark Side, these characters believe the ends justify the means (evil behavior for a good or moral purpose).  Maya is involved in terrible activities, but she does get her man. Can she live with herself?  Or is she willing to do even worse things for the next right cause?

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