Tag: civil war

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A stylized shot of actor Jesse Plemons wearing fatigues, red sunglasses, and a rifle in Alex Garland's "Civil War".

America Falls Flat: on Alex Garland’s “Civil War” (2024)

Alex Garland’s Civil War has already generated a decent amount of controversy not long into its US release—at least as much as its producers surely intended it to. It is an election year, after all, and with a not unsignificant number of Americans worried about the possibility of there being another civil war on the horizon, it is no wonder A24 would support Garland (the two having previously partnered on his 2022 gender-parable Men) to draw audiences whose grimmer curiosities might be piqued by an English auteur’s take on American self-evisceration, ideological or otherwise. Much of this controversy stems from dissenters’ claims that showing such a film now would be to irresponsibly stoke either viewers’ anxieties or their potential aggressions.

The film, however, for all its purported untimeliness, is too evasive, too pointedly nonpartisan, for these concerns to hold water. The title will likely evoke, for its US audiences, the war between the Union and the Confederacy in the 1860s, but its usage is more about the concept as such than about any particular instantiation. Garland, in simply transplanting the scenes that have played out and are still playing out in stages all across the developing world to the streets of New York City and Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., seeks to explode any remaining “It Can’t Happen Here” sentiments without committing himself to any specific political stance. Not any, at least, stronger than a traditional, almost nostalgic, belief in the need for our institutions (government, economic structures, the media, etc.) to be safeguarded from the ravages of internecine conflict. […]