A Private War (2018)

“Our mission is to find the truth.”

I don’t understand war correspondents. The danger they operate in particularly when they don’t have the protection of troops.

“You have to find the truth to help people. Otherwise you’re just making yourself feel better.”

What they do is insane, the conflict zones they work in, and the fine line between observer and victim. Don’t get me wrong, what journalists do to report the horror of war, the reality of bombs and death, or sacrifice and heroism, it takes unusual people to do that.

“Will it make people chick on your cornflakes?”

A Private War follows ten years in the life of Marie Colvin, who worked for the Sunday Times, going places most of us don’t even want to think about.

Colvin is a complicated person.  She battles wanting a normal life with a husband and family, and globetrotting into war zones.  She cannot stop the path she is on, doing what she needs and is good at doing.

“You have a God given talent to make people stop and care.”

She covers Sryia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Libya, interviewing Gaddafi before he is killed.  Gaddafi will talk with her, giving her stories but he also wants to have sex with her.

“Believing there are enough people who care when your story reaches them.”

At the beginning of the film, Colvin loses an eye in an RPG attack. Later on, she coughs up a molar, suffers from PTSD, loses relationships, witnesses the brutality of war, and self-medicated herself with nicotine, alcohol, sex and danger.

Rosamund Pike is a very talented actress, who has worked her way from supporting to co-starring and now lead roles.  As Colvin, she nails the part.  If you saw her in Gone Girl, you know that Pike can play complicated and torn characters.

The last quarter of the film deals with her coverage of Homs, Syria, where 28,000 people are in harms way. Reporting live, the only Western journalist on the frontline, Colvin reports the shelling of civilians by the Syrian military.

“You’ll never get where you’re going if you knowledge fear.”

“I’ve understood war in a profoundly different way than I’ve ever understood it before,” the actress says. “Modern warfare is a very, very scary place to be. There are images I’ve now seen I will never, ever forget. That I will never be able to un-see,” Pike told Emily Zemler of the Los Angeles Times.

The real Colvin on the left, Pike on the right.

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