30 January 2013 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

I take issue with Slavoj Žižek on the portrayal of torture in Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow's gift to America, 26 January). I found the film's torture scenes profoundly disturbing, made more so by Maya's uneasy acquiescence to it. I wanted her to intervene, but had she done so, the film would have become a superficial thriller with "good guys" and "bad guys". Instead, I was left to think: how would I have behaved? Might I have done the same? Circumstances can cause any of us to break our moral codes, as any psychologist or historian knows.

What Žižek decries as the normalisation of torture is what makes the film so powerful. Post-9/11, torture was normalised by our politicians, hidden behind words like "enhanced interrogation", and this is what the film shows. Bigelow is right: showing does not mean endorsement. Are we not intelligent enough viewers to work that out? The film »

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