I intended to provoke a certain amount of righteous anger, and patriotic anger. I felt the very principles of our country had been upended and abused by a rather cynical administration for its own political gain, and in a way that showed both their ignorance and their arrogance.
I think the film is really about the corruption of the American character. And Taxi to the Dark Side, obviously, has a number of different meanings. There is a taxi driver, Dilawar, who was murdered in detention. The taxi driver is the universal symbol; it's almost like universal man. So there's a kind of poignancy to that. He's a very particular person, but he's a more generalized person. Somebody who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and just gets picked up and then murdered, even though he is perfectly innocent.
But the Taxi to the Dark Side also refers to something else. And we reference it toward the end of the film, and you see a kind of mysterious taxi moving through the monuments of Washington at night, because it's very easy to lose your bearings in a democracy. It's as easy as taking a taxi ride from one end of town to another.
You can take a taxi ride to the dark side very simply, with a few people in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice tinkering with old rules in order to be able to give the executive branch tremendous power. As if the President was now a king who could do whatever he wanted, and, indeed, could break whatever law he wanted.
What you're talking about is undermining the fundamental rule of law. That's one of the things I discovered, is that torture turns out to be a lot more complicated than you originally think, because it's not just the abuse of an interrogation technique, it ultimately leads down the road of the total corruption of the rule of law. Because when you have people in an administration who feel that they have untrammeled powers, and they have an interrogation technique which does nothing more than get information that they want to hear, then you're in George Orwell 1984 territory. And that's the terrifying thing about the film. That's the taxi to the dark side.
What I intended with this film was to provoke a certain amount of righteous anger, and patriotic anger. I felt the very principles of our country had been upended and abused by a rather cynical administration for its own political gain, and in a way that showed both their ignorance and their arrogance. It's up to us as citizens, though, to do something about it. Not just by voting, but by registering our voices so that they can be heard, because it's only with that outrage that the weak men and women in Congress will be motivated to do anything so that we can hold those responsible to account.