The films Zero Dark Thirty and Night and Day are similar movies; yet differ in some aspects as well. Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, is an action movie about the chase to find Osama bin Laden. It is about the tenacious search Maya has to go through to find him. Night and Day at its core is about a powerful battery (zephyr) that Roy wants to keep away from his enemy’s possession. Roy is being chased the entire film because his enemies want to find the zephyr, and kill him. While keeping the zephyr away from his enemies, Roy finds himself having to protect a girl named June who gets stuck in the situation. Zero Dark Thirty is a movie about a girl in search of a terrorist, and Night and Day is a about a man protecting a battery and a girl. While both films are action movies of a chase, Zero Dark Thirty is directed by an auteur and is a “feminist” movie that promotes the authority of government. Night and Day is an action movie absent of film art, promotes conventional gender roles, and is more conspiratorial towards the government.
Genre, film ideology, attitudes towards the government, and auteur film all play a role in Zero Dark Thirty. The entire film is about the chase for Osama bin Laden. Maya spends endless hours doing research, and listening to interrogations of terrorists who were close to bin Laden all to find out clues about where Bin Laden might be hiding. Maya interrogates people herself, and makes a pivotal decision about invading a house where she thinks bin Laden is hiding. The chase is a vital pat of the movie that causes the film to be action filled. Zero Dark Thirty also has a film ideology. It promotes feminism, and shows how a woman can perform a “mans job”. Marouf Hasian Jr., a communications professor at the university of Utah wrote in the Sage Journals, “The films producers, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, have marketed this visual artifact as a liberating cinematic representation that shows how a dedicated woman led the manhunt for Osama bin Laden”(Hasian). Zero Dark Thirty shows how a woman can perform a manhunt. The oxford dictionary defines manhunt as, “an organized search for a person, especially a criminal”. The word that means searching for a person has the word “man” in it. Insinuating that a manhunt is considered to be a man’s job. In Zero Dark Thirty, Maya goes on a manhunt for Osama bin Laden. She searches endlessly through documents, pictures, and recordings of interrogations with terrorists to find him. She interrogates people herself, and almost dies from a bullet while leaving the Pakistan embassy in her car. Jessica Chastain’s character portrays a woman with a goal, who does everything in her power to fulfill that goal of finding Osama bin Laden. Her journey was dangerous, and she did not give up. Her character showed how a woman could go on a successful “manhunt”. One a political note, the rights of the government to torture, and spy on people are taken lightly in this film. The film does not even bring up the idea that this technique may not moral. There is an overall assumption that the government has all the power it wants, and can torture people to obtain information, and all is well if it is done in the name of the government. As well as being a feminist, Bigelow is an auteur because she sends a message in her film about feminism. Hanna Rosin writes in the New Republic, “But why her? She is not just a woman, but a woman who once appeared in Born in Flames, a movie about feminists and lesbians trying to take over the United States”(Rosin). Hanna thinks that it is significant that Bigelow directed this feminist movie, because she herself is a feminist. She has been in a feminist movie called born in flames, and although the other films directed by Bigelow have been with very strong men, it only exaggerates the message of feminism in Zero Dark Thirty
Although absent of auteur film, Knight and Day also has a specific genre, ideology, and attitude towards government. The entire movie is Roy protecting the zephyr and June while running for his life. He is being chased the whole movie, which makes the film an exciting action movie. Although this film was made recently, it still had conventional gender roles as a film ideology. From the very beginning of the film, June is portrayed as a helpless woman, as Roy fights all the battles and takes care of her. June spends most of her time screaming, or hiding behind Roy. In the beginning of the film she screams in the pilots pit while Roy lands the plane. Then as the film progresses she creates problems for Roy by answering her phone on a secluded island, and Roy has to save them from getting captured by his enemies. June also hides behind Roy, and follows his lead in the fighting scenes. Gary Thomson says it well in the Inquirer that June’s “job, mostly, is to be awestruck by Roy’s bravado and athleticism, to describe Roy as brave and athletic when he’s off camera, and to scream when bad guys try to kill her”(Thomson). Knight and Day is a conventional style movie where the girl needs to be saved by the boy while the boy fights off the bad guys. In contrast to Zero Dark Thirty, Knight and Day is conspiratorial against the government. In this film the government are the “bad guys” and Roy is the good guy. Roy has to run away form the government to protect Simon, the creator of the zephyr, June, and to protect himself from the government. Again in contrast to Zero Dark Thirty, James Mangold is not an auteur director. He is a Hollywood producer, who creates movies for the public to watch and enjoy. Although he has created respectable work, including Walk the Line, he does not direct films to portray a message, but rather to make a movie that people will watch and enjoy.
Night and Day and Zero Dark Thirty are both action movies that have conflicting film ideologies, and government perspective. They are both movies about the chase of a person. In Knight and Day the bad people are chasing Roy the entire time, and in Zero Dark Thirty Maya is chasing bin Laden. Although they share a genre, they differ in the gender roles they portray. The ideology of Zero Dark Thirty is that a woman can perform the task of a man, and is meant to be inspiring to woman. Knight and Day is meant to elicit a romantic response by its audience, while June is constantly being saved and protected by Roy while he fights off all the bad guys. The two films also differ in their approach to government. The hunt for Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty is all done in the name of the government, and any torture that accompanies this hunt is justified. Knight and Day is against the government, and shows how they are not always correct in who they hire, or their action. In regards to Auteur film, Bigelow is an auteur because of he portraying feminism in her films, while Mangold is a producer to please and cause enjoyment from his audience.
Zero Dark Thirty and Knight and Day share a genre, but contrast in their ideologies, attitude towards government, and one is directed as an auteur film, and the other is a film for pure entertainment. While the genre in Zero Dark Thirty is action, it holds an ideology of feminism, a positive attitude towards government, and is an auteur film. Knight and Day compares to Zero Dark Thirty in that it is an action filled movie, but it differs in its ideology in that shows conventional gender roles, conspiratorial towards the government, and is not auteur film.
Hasian, Marouf Jr. “The Critical Challenges Posed by Populist Post feminism During the Global War on Terrorism.” Sage Journals. 2013. 37:322.
Rosin, Hanna. “The Auteur of Unease What Kathryn Bigleow understands about the war on terror that no other director does.” New Republic. N.P., 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 23 Dec. 2013.
Thomson, Gary. “In ‘Knight and Day,’ Tom Cruise takes us back to a younger Tom.” The Inquirer. The Inquirer, 23 June 2010. Web. 23 Dec 2013.