“You’ve seen more war than most soldiers.”
The story of Marie Colvin may be one of the most important movies of 2018 in respects to the immense status of her resolve. A story that every journalist should know and strive to emulate.
Here was a woman who was fearless. A woman who needed no invitation to seek after the truth in war-torn battle zones. A woman who possessed the requisite heart for the suffering of others that she would suffer through the trenches in order to bring their suffering to light. A woman who struggled with her demons in the comfort of safe returns. A woman who had her private faults and indiscretions. A woman who remained poised till the bitter end. Just listening to the audio with CNN hours before she died is to listen to the sound of strength beyond strength that is nothing short of admirable.
Just listen to this fine synapses from the TIME:
Over her decades-long career, Colvin reported from some of the hottest conflict zones in the world, from Chechnya to Zimbabwe. She lost an eye reporting on the civil war in Sri Lanka, and in East Timor was credited with saving the lives of 1,500 women and children surrounded by Indonesian-backed forces. She produced some of her most remarkable coverage during the uprisings of the Arab Spring, reporting from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya in the midst of the 2011 revolutions. Ultimately, the career to which she dedicated her life led to its tragic end: In 2012, Colvin was reporting from inside the besieged rebel-held city of Homs, Syria, when she was killed by regime shelling
And so with her life, a film was needed to capture the edges of her haunting competence. And, in many ways, what Jeannette Catsoulis (New York Times) says is right: “what [Heineman] has made is a deeply distressing, authentically moving psychological study of unswerving obsession.”
And, at the same time, it was underwhelming.
Her life deserved something more serious, something without the sensationalized footprints of Hollywood prone to waste the pedagogical tools that comes with filmmaking. Something that isn’t window dressing with the psychological bite that motivated the limbic system to go into overdrive. She deserved layers and parts, with sequels and seasons. While director Matthew Heineman did not want to make a “traditional biopic,” but rather something more akin to a “psychological thriller,” I think in this regard he failed to respect the legacy of Colvin by choosing to entertain the audience instead of reporting the reality on the ground.
An opportunity was wasted to navigate through some of the most interesting episodes in my generation, while drawing on the poetic nature of her sacrifice and reporting. When Heineman’s Colvin speaks, she exudes the high faulting rhetoric of the Washington Post’s “Democracy Dies in Darkness” — sounding more like the poster child for the self-aggrandizing media special interest groups, than someone who committed her life for the cause of seeking answers.
The film reduced her to anecdotal episodes that needed to be played in their appropriate context. Explained and exhumed through the fine comb measures of a poet-architect who builds a house from the rubble of Colvin’s pieces. Used as pillars to construct and motivate the next generation of war correspondence and mainstream journalists to put the truth over the cause of self-interest.
The movie was good, but Colvin was great. In this regard, the movie failed to live up to her legacy.