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Roger L. Simon

Benghazi — The Motion Picture

February 15th, 2013 - 12:00 am

This evening, after I write this piece, I will be voting in the Oscars, for the first time online. (I have been an Academy member since 1985 and we have always voted during that period on written forms mailed directly to Price Waterhouse.)  The Academy discourages us from revealing our votes – so I won’t. (At least not here. Watch the next Poliwood and you might get some idea.)

But I will tell you one film I will not be voting for — Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s version of the hunt for Bin Laden.  It’s not that the filmmakers are untalented.  As I mentioned a few years ago on Poliwood, I quite admired their 2008 opus The Hurt Locker.  But Zero Dark Thirty felt rushed and disorganized.  Even a news junkie like me often didn’t know what was happening or why.

Perhaps the killing of Bin Laden defies telling in a feature film.  The material is too vast and a mini-series would have been better, especially since it is fraught with irony and Bin Laden’s assassination may have been, in the end, irrelevant.  (“Obama, Obama, we are all Osama.”) In any case, two hours plus is just not enough.

One story, however, cries out for cinematic dramatization — Benghazi.

It is concise and highly dramatic.  And mysteries abound – just where was the president of the United States that night our ambassador and others were under terror attack in North Africa?  Why wasn’t Obama directly involved? Why did the secretary of State pay so little attention? Just what was our ambassador to Libya doing in Benghazi that night anyway? Why were the perpetrators allowed to escape?  Why did the president lie for weeks about what transpired, trying to make a hopeless video nobody saw seem  the cause of the event?   And why were his lies covered up by CNN’s Candy Crowley? Why was no attempt made to save our people in the first place? (I could go on, but you get the drift.)

Though I could guess (and the Daily Mail has some theories), I don’t know the definitive answer to any of these questions, but I do know one thing: If I did… if anybody did… know the truth, Benghazi would be one helluva movie. And a commercial one.

But would anybody make it?

That’s the question.

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