‘Civil War’ seeks to capture ‘heartbreaking’ experience of war zone journalists

By Thomson Reuters Apr 11, 2024 | 5:41 AM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actors Kirsten Dunst and Wagner Moura sought to understand how journalists cope with working in war zones as they prepared for their starring roles in the movie “Civil War,” which is released in U.S. cinemas on Friday.

“Civil War” is a tense thriller set in the near future, as society collapses in the United States and war breaks out. Fictional Reuters photographer Lee (Dunst) and reporter Joel (Moura) take to the road with the aim of reaching Washington before it falls to a rebel faction.

“Something’s happened, something really sad and dangerous has happened to do with journalism,” British filmmaker Alex Garland, who wrote and directed “Civil War,” said in an interview.

“The reason I put them at the heart of the film is that there are really good journalists out there doing good work. They don’t have traction in the way they used to have,” he said, citing undermining from politicians, social media and bias-heavy news outlets. “I thought, ‘well, I’ll do something oppositional to that.'”

For Brazilian actor Moura, who previously starred as Pablo Escobar in the Netflix series “Narcos,” journalism has a role to play in fighting polarization in society.

“People like getting information from social media and all the fake news and the bubbles. Progressives only read progressive things and conservatives are the same… the role of the journalist in the world, I think, is very, very important,” he said.

To prepare for his role, it was important to understand how reporters reacted in the field, said Moura.

“To be in the field, in a war zone, is a whole another thing so mostly what I wanted to know was not even intellectually how they did their job but what did they feel when they were in a war zone.”

The cast watched a documentary about late Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed in Syria in 2012, as part of their preparation, said Hollywood veteran Dunst.

“The camaraderie of them under those circumstances was the most heartbreaking and beautiful thing that I’d seen,” she said.

“What they feel is exactly what we wanted to capture.”

(Reporting by Rollo Ross, Writing by Rosalba O’Brien, editing by Deepa Babington)