I watched a trailer a few days ago for Alex Garland’s new movie Civil War, which looks to be about the violent breakup of the United States.
Garland is an interesting writer and director, and I tend to enjoy his stuff. At a minimum, I appreciate what he is trying to get at and while his work can be hit (28 Days Later, Annihilation) or miss (The Beach, Men), when it’s good, it’s really good. If nothing else, I like the ambitiousness of his storytelling and the way that he aims at big ideas.
This one makes me uncomfortable, however. It feels to real, too close to home. I believe that art should be challenging, so it is not that I think people should not be telling these kinds of stories. It just feels weird and a little wrong to see it in the form of a big Hollywood movie. I mean, yeah—it’s Alex Garland and A24, not Michael Bay, but still.
One should never read the comments (especially not on YouTube) but I was struck by people talking about how this movie looks great and they can’t wait to see it. To me, it looks horrifying and I’m not sure I want to see it at all; it feels too close to reading the actual news.
I find that reaction strange, though. I have read and watched any number of dystopian, apocalyptic stories. Maybe the difference is that those stories used to feel more distant to me than they do now.