I knew the basic plot and outcome. You’d have to have been living under a rock not to know. I expected an intelligence analyst tenaciously chasing down Osama bin Laden (aka ‘UBL’ as I learned in the movie) over many years. I expected torture, false leads, disappointments, tough decisions. And in the end I expected a studly swat team to swoop down into Abbottobad, Pakistan at ‘zero dark thirty’ and shoot him dead.
What I was less sure about, is how the audience would react, when bin Laden was finally gunned down. There had been celebrations in the streets in some places, when the news broke. Would people clap in the cinema? Would they cheer? It happens sometimes.
What actually happened as the last scene played out and the credits began to roll on a stark black background was the last thing I expected: complete silence. You could have heard a pin drop. The audience slowly stirred and began an almost slow-motion, hesitant migration towards the exits. We were stunned.
Why? We knew this had happened. This was not new information. This nation had spent 10 years singularly fixed on destroying this very specific symbol of terrorism. We didn’t seem to know how to process this. In the end, we all participated in this act of violence. Did it somehow grieve us? Did it somehow leave us feeling empty? Now what? Did anything change, because of this? But could we have done anything different? There was no other possible option, right? How will history write about this?
Lots to think about.