Civil War’s Texas And California Alliance Is A Question Alex Garland ‘Wants Audiences To Ask’

Civil War

by Ben Travis |
Published on

When A24 unveiled the first trailer for Alex Garland’s Civil War, it evoked all kinds of responses. For one, it looks like a supremely tense ride, bringing a violent conflict to the very heart of the USA. It looks spectacular too, a film from the indie-minded studio on an unprecedented sense of scale. But it also drew confusion from some viewers: given the political (and geographical) landscape of America, how exactly does it work that the conflict involves a coalition of the ‘Western Forces of Texas and California’; two states on opposite sides of the nation, and generally on opposing ends of the political spectrum too?

As it turns out, that’s a key thing for audiences to ponder as they encounter Civil War’s fractured world. “That’s embedded in the film,” teases Garland, speaking to Empire. “I tend not to spell things out in films. I sometimes feel overly spoon-fed by cinema, and so I probably just react against that. That question, why Texas and California, is a question that I want the audience to ask.”

While Garland has long worked in genre fare – from the sci-fi trappings of Ex Machina and Annihilation, to the all-out horror of 28 Days Later and Men – he’s going more grounded here. “I’ve seen it described as sci-fi, but I don’t see it as sci-fi at all,” he says of Civil War. “There’s no ‘sci’ in it, for a start.” Instead, it’s a tale of journalists traversing a not-so-united States in a not-so-far-future, making their way through a maelstrom of violence and ideological opposition. “Journalists are vilified, often, by all sorts of different people. By politicians, by the public. It’s not necessarily a side of a political spectrum,” the director explains. “And the truth is that if you want a government with checks and balances, you need journalists. In the inferences within the film, one of them is an inference about journalists, and about how important they are.” Get ready for a road trip of the most unflinching kind.

Empire – April 2024 – Star Wars Prequels covers

Read Empire’s full Civil War story in the Star Wars prequels 25th anniversary issue – on sale Thursday 15 February. Civil War comes to UK cinemas from 12 April.

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