Zero Dark Thirty is director Kathryn Bigelow’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to her Oscar winning film The Hurt Locker. It is also the eagerly anticipated portrayal of the SEAL Team Six mission that killed Osama bin Laden last year. With all that attention on her, Bigelow had to decide just how to show bin Laden in the film. We do catch glimpses of his body after the raid, but never a clear close-up of his face.

Thinking was this is about the people, the men and women on the ground in the workforce, who found this house and then therefore found this man,” Bigelow said. “Ultimately, it’s not really about him as much as it’s about them. They humanized that hunt and humanized that journey. It’s their story.”

The film portrays the 10 year investigation that located bin Laden’s Abottobad, and Bigelow recreated the raid with her crew. “I think it was very important to us and certainly from the script to really give the audience a sort of ‘you are there’ feel to this piece,” she said. “The raid was the most challenging logistically, I think, because we had to shoot in low light conditions to replicate a moonless night and then no light conditions to use the night vision goggles, which were real night vision lenses that we adapted to our camera lenses and they only work in zero light conditions. You have about 100 crew members and 22 Seals traipsing around a pitch black, rubble strewn set which was kind of interesting. But again, the desire was to make it feel like you are there. I don’t mean a lot of subjective camera, but nonetheless a kind of sense that it feels real and that it’s unfolding around you in real time.”

Zero Dark Thirty opens in select cities Wednesday, and opens wide January 11.