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Ex-Congresswoman Has Seen 'Zero Dark Thirty' Four Times, Speaks in Its Defense

Jane Harman, who served on three House committees pertaining to national security and knows "a ton about the material" in the film, calls it "magnificent."

Jane Harmen
Kris Connor/Getty Images

At Saturday evening's 25th USC Scripter Awards, THR spoke with former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, a Democrat who served nine terms in Congress on behalf of California's 36th district, about the depiction of torture in best picture Oscar nominee Zero Dark Thirty (which was ineligible for the Scripter because it used an original screenplay).

Harman, who spent time on all three of the House committees connected to national security -- six years on Armed Services, eight years on Intelligence and four years on Homeland Security -- before resigning last May to head a think tank in Washington, said that she has seen Kathryn Bigelow's film four times already and gives it very high marks.

Harman, "a big movie buff" who was at the event because she is a USC trustee and parent of a USC alum, said of Zero Dark Thirty, "I know a ton about the material in the movie," and gushed, "I think it's magnificent."

"There are some things [in the film] that are not accurate," she conceded, "but it's a movie!" She continued, "And, as a movie -- at least from this unscientific vantage point -- it's fabulous."

Does the film endorse torture? "I wouldn't say so," she said. "I don't endorse torture, and I was outspoken when I was in Congress about that. I think depicting some things that happened is not unfair."

Did torture produce the information that led the U.S. to the courier who led them to Osama bin Laden? "I think some people think that," Harman said, "but that is not accurate."

She reiterated, "It's a movie. It's not a documentary. It moves well. The actors are terrific. I loved it. And I'll see it for the fifth time as soon as I have a minute."

Ever a politician -- and movie buff -- she also added, "Argo is wonderful. I just saw that for the second time."