• The Christmas decorations in
    Civil War
    add a surreal element, representing a country in disrepair.
  • Garland stumbled upon a decorated house by chance, turning it into a poignant detail in the film.
  • The decorations left behind in the summer serve as a haunting reminder of a war-torn America.



There is one strange scene in A24’s Civil War that director Alex Garland is finally ready to describe. Following a team of journalists hoping to interview the tyrannical three-term President, Civil War features numerous firefights, life-or-death scenarios, and power-hungry killers capitalizing on the devastation. The movie has become a massive hit for A24, setting box office records with a $25.7 million opening weekend.

In one bizarre scene, two snipers battle in a setting that features a house filled with Christmas decorations. Because the movie takes place in the summer, the decorations are an odd detail that raises questions for the critically praised epic. In an interview with The New York Times as a part of the Anatomy of a Scene series, Garland explained that the decorations served to create “very surrealist imagery“, which served to reinforce the movie’s themes. Check out his full quote below:

“What they find themselves stuck in is a battle between two snipers. And they are close to one of the snipers and the other sniper is somewhere unseen, but presumably in a large house that sits over a field and a hill. It’s a surrealist exchange, and it’s surrounded by some very surrealist imagery, which is they’re, in broad daylight in broad sunshine, there’s no indication that we’re anywhere near winter in the filming. In fact, you can kind of tell it’s summer. But they’re surrounded by Christmas decorations. And in some ways, the Christmas decorations speak of a country, which is in disrepair, however silly it sounds. If you haven’t put away your Christmas decorations, clearly something isn’t going right… And there’s a bit of imagery. It felt like it hit the right note. But the interesting thing about that imagery was that it was not production designed. We didn’t create it. We actually literally found it. We were driving along and we saw all of these Christmas decorations, basically exactly as they are in the film. They were about 100 yards away, just piled up by the side of the road. And it turned out, it was a guy who’d put on a winter wonderland festival. People had not dug his winter wonderland festival, and he’d gone bankrupt. And he had decided just to leave everything just strewn around on a farmer’s field, who was then absolutely furious. So in a way, there’s a loose parallel, which is the same implication that exists within the film exists within real life… It’s to do with the fact that when things get extreme, the reasons why things got extreme no longer become relevant and the knife edge of the problem is all that really remains relevant. So it doesn’t actually matter, as it were, in this context, what side they’re fighting for or what the other person’s fighting for. It’s just reduced to a survival.”

The Meaning Of Civil War’s Decorated House

The Christmas Decorations Add A Surreal Element To The Movie

A house lined with Christmas decorations is a strange sight in the summer. Typically, within a month of the holiday ending, families remove the signs, release the air from blow-up Santas, and proceed to prepare for Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. In Civil War, a house was left standing with ample Christmas decorations and no sign of its original inhabitants. It is a monument to the chaos of the Civil War and the impact that it has left on the American people. They put up signs for Christmas and fled before the fighting began.


What Caused The Civil War In A24’s New 2024 Movie?

Alex Garland’s new A24 blockbuster Civil War makes a bold cautionary statement about a divided and war-ridden United States under fascist rule.

The decorations are a sign of the state of chaos that the country has entered by the time that America splits into factions and wages war. Even regular citizens are forced to abandon their homes in the middle of winter, leaving the optimistic decorations on their walls. While it was not originally Garland’s intention to include Christmas decorations, he was inspired by seeing a home in a similar state. It speaks of an untold story, which adds a greater sense of emotional impact to the movie.

The surreal nature of the Christmas signs also adds to the firefight. It makes the war into an experience that is just as jarring for audiences as it is for the characters. The signs of a happy America are still present, but they have been left behind and replaced with sniper fire. Just as Lee struggles to survive in the new America, the signs of the old America remain scattered. The sniper scene is a sign of the attentiveness that Garland put into Civil War‘s cinematography. These details explain why the movie is quickly becoming A24’s best box office venture.

Civil War
is currently in theaters.

Source: NYT

Civil War 2024 Movie Poster Featuring Fighters with Snipers Atop the Statue of Liberty

Civil War

Civil War is a 2024 action thriller from writer and director Alex Garland. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, Civil War takes place in the near future and shows the United States entering a new Civil War after California and Texas attempt to separate from the country.

Release Date
April 26, 2024

DNA Films


Kirsten Dunst , Wagner Moura , Stephen McKinley Henderson , Cailee Spaeny , Jesse Plemons , Nick Offerman

109 Minutes

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