The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

COLUMN: ‘Civil War,’ Journalists have their own wars

Sia DeyKoontz
Cam’ron Hardy

Alex Garland’s newest film ‘Civil War’ explores the war of dystopian future America as journalists race against each other to gather stories and photos during a war.

Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst), Joel (Wagner Moura) and Jessie (Cailee Spaeny) take lead in walking us through this unknown America.

This was an interesting approach by director Garland, as the role of journalists is sometimes overlooked, especially in the position of war.

Being a journalist, the start of the movie was already raising some flags. In no situation, would a journalist bring along a random kid just to gain experience. That’s what jobs and internships are for.

It was possible that it was the easiest way to introduce Jessie and keep her along, but the way it happened was impossible. It also seemed unfitting for Dunst’s character, to add onto the responsibility of taking care of a child. Smith seems like the kind of person to just do what she needs to do and not have to worry about other characters.

Dunst’s character does not require a wide range of emotion. She has a stern personality, which is fitting and shows us that she takes her job seriously. She is recognized by many, as her work is evidently a staple in the photojournalism realm.

Moura’s character, Joel, displays more emotion, which seems more fitting especially due to the establishing chain of events. He watches four of his peers die, and by the fourth one, it seemingly doesn’t impact him, possibly due to the number of casualties he’s experienced by that point.

Joel makes me want to know his back story and understand how he got to where he’s at. I got the feeling that he has a child back home, which is why he connected with Jessie.

Jessie really just wants to learn from her hero but forces her way into Lee and Joel’s journey.

Jessie is such an inconvenience in the latter half of the film. She risks her safety by trying capture moments but being that she is young and not with any real organization, people have to keep watching after her.

The ending was not unsuspected either. Things got more intense by the end

The entire film felt like a video game, especially the ending. Unfortunately, there was not as much action as I would have liked. The majority of the film felt like we were on a road trip, but the stops they made led to other interactions and led to good moments for both the audience members and for the journalists’ stories.

I wish we would have been shown more of the reporting after they returned to the newsroom. I would have liked to see what stories would have run and how the coverage turned out. Maybe its just because it would have been a learning experience to me.

Since the movie focuses on the photography aspect of journalism and war, it was only right that the stills were cinematic, and they definitely were. There was only one scene in particular that incorporated color, which was visually striking.

I really loved when Jessie or Lee took photos and we would be shown the stills. There were some times when Jessie’s photos were simply breathtaking, especially at the end with the horrific tragedies.

The sound design had a noble contribution to the film. Gunshots could be faintly heard, which was a great addition.

Although there were some highs and the movie, there isn’t much that allows the film to stand out. Jessie has minor character progression by taking photos of Lee’s death at the end, leaving me with a sense of heartbreak and devastation to know that she is the reason why her hero was killed.

The opening credits of the film introduced us to the multiple areas that audience members would hear different sounds around the theatre.

The lack of character development and not much progression with the plot left me wanting more.

The movie does put into perspective how much journalist encounter when they are out reporting or photographing.


Rate: 3/5


Cam’ron Hardy can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Cam'ron Hardy
Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor
Cam'ron is a junior journalism major. He previously served news editor and campus editor at The News. 

Comments (0)

Commenting on the Daily Eastern News web site is a privilege, not a right. We reserve the right to remove comments that contain obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. Also, comments containing personal attacks or threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
All The Daily Eastern News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest