Where are Osama bin Laden’s films?


September 11, 2001 is a defining date in American history, perhaps the most significant day since the Japanese raid of December 7, 1941 on Pearl Harbor.

For some reason, storytellers have avoided telling the story of the man who carried out these attacks. There are only two films on the hunt for Osama bin Laden, “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden”.

Pearl Harbor has inspired some of the most popular WWII films, including the Best Picture Oscar winner “From Here to Eternity” (1953) starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift and Frank Sinatra. Don’t miss the excellent “In Harm’s Way” (1965) with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas.

There’s also Michael Bay’s controversial but incredibly successful “Pearl Harbor” (2001) starring Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. “Tora! Tora! Tora! is a 1970 US-Japanese co-production that features an epic recreation of the attacks. And Steven Spielberg’s comedy “1941” seeks to find humor in the way mainland Americans have responded to the attacks.

In 1978, ABC Television aired an epic miniseries called “Pearl” which recycled battle footage from “Tora!” Tora! Tora! and amplified the soap opera stories. Americans were watching by the millions.

This was quickly followed by a remake of the NBC miniseries of “From Here to Eternity,” a presentation so successful it led to a 1980 television series starring William Devane and Kim Basinger that only lasted 11 years. episodes.

That’s not counting the dozens of movies and shows like the two versions of “Midway” that use Pearl Harbor as a critical plot point that sets in motion the real story they’re trying to tell.

So where are the Al Qaeda stories? Where is the 10-part miniseries that follows the rise of the Islamist movement in the closing decades of the 20th century? We have “The Looming Tower,” the 2018 Hulu miniseries that details how the FBI-CIA rivalry led to the intelligence failures of 2001, but there must be several versions of that story to tell.

Seriously, any low-budget producer with access to a few helicopters could build a house in the New Mexico desert and give the 2011 raid that killed the Al Qaeda leader a dirty, quick spin on its own.

It’s been 10 years, and we’ve only had two attempts to tell the story, both made in a rush after the Navy SEAL team completed their mission. We’ve had years and years for the filmmakers to come up with new angles on the story based on facts that slowly emerged in the years after Bin Laden‘s death.

How about a miniseries on the inner workings of the White House in the weeks leading up to the raid? It’s a suspenseful story that would captivate an audience if it told it the right way.

Yet we have two versions of the raid that eliminated Bin Laden. One focuses on the intelligence that led to the raid, and the other on the operators who led it. In fact, they’re a pretty good dual feature.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

“Zero Dark Thirty” is the premier modern war on terror film from director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, the team behind “The Hurt Locker”, Oscar winner for Best Picture. “ZDT” won an Oscar for Sound Editing and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress for Jessica Chastain.

Chastain plays a young CIA analyst determined to use limited intelligence resources to uncover the whereabouts of Bin Laden. It is more about his belief that his instincts are correct than about the team that carried out the mission.

Still, Bigelow’s version of the actual raid is absolutely compelling, and another example of why she’s one of the most gifted action film directors working today.

Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden

This film was originally called “Codename: Geronimo” and was due to hit theaters when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival just one year after the actual events. Produced by Nicolas Chartier, who also produced “The Hurt Locker”, the film became the first fiction film to premiere on the National Geographic Channel just two days before the 2012 presidential election.

“Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden” was directed by John Stockwell, who is perhaps best known for playing “Cougar” in the original “Top Gun”. Prison Break stars William Fichtner and Robert Knepper play a CIA official and SEAL lieutenant commander, respectively.

The movie doesn’t have the polish we get from “Zero Dark Thirty,” but you also focus a lot more on SEALs and military action.

Both films are available for digital rental or for purchase on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. You can also purchase “Zero Dark Thirty” on a 4K UHD disc.

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