‘A Private War’ Summary & Ending, Explained – A Little Faith In Humanity


In A Private War, journalist Marie Colvin (played by Rosamund Pike) is traumatized by her war experience. She wants peace, but she doesn’t seek it. She wishes for a normal life but couldn’t imagine a world where she isn’t a war reporter. No one in their right mind would cover 4 prominent battlefields in their career. But Marie never lost conviction. She believed that if her stories reached the right amount of people, some might care for the war-stricken people and help to stop all wars happening around us. To attain absolute peace is a myth, but to stop trying is much more devastating.

A Private War is based on an article written on the real-life war efforts of American journalist Marie Colvin. The biographical film is directed by Matthew Heineman. It stars the brilliant Rosamund Pike, who plays one of the most memorable roles of her career. The story majorly documents Marie’s life as a war correspondent visiting the frontline. Without plunging much into her personal life, the narrative focuses on the scars she attained on the battlefield and the differences she made throughout the world.

‘A Private War’ Summary

As ardent and arduous Marie was, working as a desk journalist was never her cup of tea. Working as a full-time reporter for The Sunday Times, Marie quickly took the task to cover Tamil Tigers, a militant organization in Sri Lanka. However, while trekking, she was ambushed by the Sri Lankan Army, where a blast contracted injuries on her left eye, leading to total blindness in that eye. The wound became the reason for her signature eyepatch that she wore all her life.

Marie was later diagnosed with PTSD, but she never accepted the fact. Instead, she took another assignment to Iraq, maybe to escape her internal horrors. In the Warland, she met her life-long photographer, Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan), who assisted her in her future coverages in Libya and the conflicted city of Homs.

Ending Explained

From the beginning, the film was setting grounds for the final journey of Marie Colvin, which was the city of Homs, attacked by Assad’s army. The whole narrative focuses on “Why Marie Colvin covered wars?” It was the same question she asked herself several times throughout the film. She could have saved her marriage if she hadn’t gone to Sri Lanka. She would have never contracted an injury either. She could have led a peaceful, pleasant life, but she didn’t. It was a matter of choice.

Marie faced a miscarriage, and the chances of getting another pregnancy were bleak due to her age. Initially, the film suggests that war became an escape for her. She wanted to run away from herself or give herself much more substance than her own grief/loss. As depicted through Marie POV, certain impacting moments in the film mostly centered on impoverished kids in Sri Lanka, the secret grave of 600 prisoners near Fallujah, and uncountable deaths in the Syrian civil war. In a way, she tried communicating stories of the people who couldn’t express their grief to the world. But in giving voice to the mute, she lost her sanity. She yearned for a peaceful life but never sought one. Why? I guess she felt that her role in the larger scheme was much more than spending a mundane life. In the end, during her Homs visit, she even spelled out, “Maybe, this is where I feel most comfortable.”

The ending sequence of the film captures her departure from the world. In Homs, Syria, her sheltered location was shelled by Assad’s army. A shell shocked Paul Conroy found Marie’s dead body piled in the rubble. Fortunately, Paul managed to leave the country and continues his profession as a photographer.

A real-life interview of Marie Colvin demonstrated her bold stance towards her war efforts, as she spoke to the audience, “You’re never going to get to where you’re going if you acknowledge fear.

No one knows why Marie infiltrated the war-stricken lands and covered them without fear. But what we know by the end of the film is that whatever she did in her life made a difference in the lives of millions of people yearning for peace and justice. Marie’s endeavors brought their stories to the world. She safeguarded the little faith in humanity that is left among us.

A Private War is a 2018 biographical film directed by Matthew Heineman. It is based on the real-life of American war correspondent Marie Colvin.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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