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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 87 wins & 171 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Detainee on Monitor
Detainee on Monitor
Detainee on Monitor
Aymen Hamdouchi ...
Detainee on Monitor
Detainee on Monitor
Ali Marhyar ...
Interrogator on Monitor
Interrogator on Monitor


Maya is a CIA operative whose first experience is in the interrogation of prisoners following the Al Qaeda attacks against the U.S. on the 11th September 2001. She is a reluctant participant in extreme duress applied to the detainees, but believes that the truth may only be obtained through such tactics. For several years, she is single-minded in her pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, in 2011, it appears that her work will pay off, and a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent to kill or capture Bin Laden. But only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


For ten years one woman never stopped searching for the most wanted man in history See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »




Release Date:

11 January 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kill Bin Laden  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$417,150, 23 December 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$95,720,716, 31 March 2013

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Digital footage equivalent to 1.8 million feet film were shot at a similar notorious ratio of 100:1 (as with Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Hurt Locker (2008)). Co-editor William Goldenberg estimated that 1/8 of the total footage was on the climatic assault of Osama bin Laden's compound. The raid was shot at least twice, one on a normal moonlight illuminated compound, and another on night vision mode. See more »


During the raid, just as the door to Princess 5-1 is sliding open, the shot goes to point of view of the seals in night vision. But as the shot goes from soldier to soldier, the black scatter from each NVG set is the same. They would be different from one NVG unit to the next. See more »


[first lines]
Dan: I own you, Ammar.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening Annapurna Pictures logo briefly appears as if seen through night vision goggles. See more »


Featured in Zero Dark Thirty: The Compound (2013) See more »


Night Song
Written by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Performed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook
Courtesy of Real World Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A winning team for a CIA narrative
24 January 2013 | by See all my reviews

Mrs. Bigelow is obsessed with obsession. Blue Steel, Point Break, the Hurt Locker, now Zero Dark Thirty. The background of the story changes, but the story remains the same. Behind different faces, the same obsessive character. The obsession portrayed in her films actually is quite simplistic and straightforward, but anyhow, in our time her "oeuvres" are considered as deep, realistic, and arty. After an adrenaline fix come the inevitable frustration and emptiness of living, Mrs. Bigelow shows it to us over and over again; her hero has a conniving streak in him/her, but a hero nevertheless. She's so focused on her obsessed character, it's easy for her to claim that the Iraq war film she made was apolitical, and ZDT, a political thriller, has no political agenda.

Mr. Boal is a journalist. When he begins to write stories for the big screen, we praise his "journalistic approach", and we can easily forget that, as most journalists these days in the US, Mr. Boal is an embedded journalist.

Unlike the Hurt Locker, which, by opening with a quote from Chris Hedges, gives a false impression of an antiwar movie, ZDT is at least honest. At the very beginning it gives us a warning:

"Based on first-hand accounts of actual events"

Aka what CIA told us and what CIA wants you to see.

The decade-long war on terror seen through a CIA agent's eyes, the whole film is shaped into a CIA narrative. As Mrs. Bigelow wrote in her LA Times article, defining ZDT's raison d'être:

"we should never discount and never forget the thousands of innocent lives lost on 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks. We should never forget the brave work of those professionals in the military and intelligence communities who paid the ultimate price in the effort to combat a grave threat to this nation's safety and security."

How many times do you hear this from a CIA/Pentagon/WH spokesperson?

Yes never discount and never forget the victims of 9/11, we heard their voices; we saw the London bus bombing survivors bloody faced, eager to share their story. But we can well forget hundreds of thousands innocent civilians killed by US forces in the past ten years, not single one of them had a place in this film. We saw angry Pakistanis gathered in front of American embassy, jumping like savages. But we would not see those CIA drone strikes, bombing Pakistani wedding, killing women and children. "They hate us for our freedom!" we saw Mayor Bloomberg repeat Bush's line. Yes never forget the brave work of those professionals in the CIA, they worked their ass out torturing terrorists, what a psychological trauma it would be watching so many naked men every day? But we can certainly forget there was also innocent people got kidnapped, tortured by these brave professionals. Forget torture is a war crime, we got Ben Laden.

"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement." Mrs. Bigelow defends her film in her LA Times piece. No Mrs. Bigelow, your film is not art. There's no art without truth.

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