By Michael Biggiani
Journalist Marie Colvin was a famous foreign war correspondent for the London Times until she was killed by a bomb in 2012 while reporting about the ongoing civil war in Syria. Ms. Colvin won numerous awards for her excellent journalism. In fact, to keep her legacy alive, our own Oyster Bay High School Library is dedicated in honor of Marie Colvin.
The recently released film A Private War is a must-see movie that details the life of Marie Colvin abroad. The film, written by Arash Amel and starring Rosamund Pike, who was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of Marie Colvin, gives a detailed account of some of the events Ms. Colvin reported on during her career as a foreign war correspondent. The movie clearly depicts how Ms. Colvin’s courage and determination enabled her to provide the world with accurate, firsthand accounts of human atrocities in several countries.
The movie opens with Marie Colvin traveling to the country of Sri Lanka in 2001 to report on a civil war taking place there. The scene explains why Colvin had to wear an eye-patch over her left eye. Colvin lost sight in her left eye after being hit by the blast of a Sri Lankan grenade while crossing from a Liberation Tigers of Tamel Eelan controlled area to a government controlled area in Sri Lanka. After the injury to her left eye, Colvin decided to cover it with a black eye patch. Despite her injury, Colvin persevered in writing and publishing her story about Sri Lanka in the London Times.
The film soon shifts to the country of Iraq where in 2003, Ms. Colvin meets up with her loyal photographer and friend Paul Conroy. Together they risk their lives to cover a story of a hidden mass grave of prisoners murdered by the Iraqi government. The risk paid off, as Colvin was again able to report this story, which uncovered human atrocities committed by the Iraqi government. The movie also highlights an interview Ms. Colvin was able to obtain from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 during the Arab Spring in Libya, where a civil war between the oppressive government of Gaddafi and the rebels was occurring.
Throughout the film, Marie Colvin also deals with her own “Private War.” She suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and frequently has visions of a dead girl lying in bed. These segments help the audience really understand what Colvin went through, and they show her bravery as she continues reporting despite her suffering. Ms. Colvin also copes with excessive drinking.
The film concludes with Marie Colvin again risking her life to cover the Syrian Civil War in Homs, Syria in 2012. Colvin was able to cross into Syria on the back of a motocross motorcycle. While in Homs, which at the time was a stronghold for the rebellion forces against President Assad’s Syrian government, Colvin gives a poignant live report to CNN anchor Anderson Cooper about the continuous shelling and killing of Syrian civilians by the Syrian government forces. Soon thereafter, while trying to flee the bombing and find a safer location, Marie Colvin and another photographer are killed by an explosive device. As the camera pans out to the bombed city of Homs, there is only silence in the theater.
Famous singer and songwriter, Annie Lennox, who was inspired by Marie Colvin’s work, came out of retirement to write the song “Requiem for a Private War,” which is the theme song of the movie and can be heard in its entirety at the end of the film. This is a very powerful song, performed beautifully by Lennox, to conclude this emotional movie. Ms. Lennox was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the song.
A Private War is a tragically beautiful film and an appropriate tribute to Marie Colvin’s courageous life as a journalist. She reported on stories from some of the most dangerous locations on Earth so her readers could feel the suffering of the people affected by war. The film succeeds in bringing this to light. Colvin teaches us all a lesson that even when the odds are stacked against you, you must continue to shed light on the truth and pursue justice. Marie Colvin “wanted people to care” about the conflicts going on overseas. It is safe to say that her work will always be remembered, and she will continue to inspire future journalists for generations to come.