Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Civil War (2024)!




  • Director Alex Garland reveals the purpose of final shot in
    Civil War
    , showcasing themes of personal sacrifice and the lasting impact of war.
  • The photograph taken by Jessie captures the essence of the moment and what people will remember about the war.
  • Garland emphasizes the importance of showcasing the personal cost of documenting history, even at the expense of those around you.

Civil War director Alex Garland has opened up about the purpose of the final shot at the White House, revealing how the ending of the movie reflects the themes present throughout. The final moments of the film see Joel and Jessie in the room as Western Forces are about to kill the President. After getting a final plea from him as a quote for his story, Joel stands by as he is killed. The final shot of the movie is a picture Jessie takes, a group of soldiers standing and smiling around the President’s body.

Speaking with Inverse, Garland explained how the ending of Civil War – particularly the final shot Jessie takes as he is killed – reflects the themes of the story and purpose of the film. The director revealed the importance of having the shot during the credits as an illustration of what people would remember about the war in the future. Check out what Garland had to say below:

[The photo comes at a] personal cost, and not just her personal cost, but [to] people around her. But that’s part of the transactional deal that sometimes people have to make to do that thing.

In 20 years’ time, what would be the image that survived this?. If there was a news article that was illustrative of that moment, what would that image be? That is the image she takes.

Why Civil War’s Ending Shot Is So Important

Jesse Plemons in camouflage and holding a gun in Civil War
Image Created by Lukas Shayo

The final shot of Civil War implies the Loyalist states have lost now that the President is dead, his demise a symbolic way of showcasing how the war ended. By having Jessie’s picture of his body surrounded by soldiers as the final shot, it reveals the impartiality photojournalists are expected to have within a wartime setting. It also reflects Garland exploring the theme of journalists risking their lives for perfect documentation, even if it means being a passive observer to world-altering violence.

This ending is also tied to how the cause of Civil War‘s conflict is unclear aside from the President taking authoritarian control of the country. The overarching political goals of factions like the Western Forces and the Florida Alliance are kept vague, the photojournalism in the movie offering audiences a way to interpret what’s going on for themselves. The final shot of the President could be viewed as a great victory for the Western Forces, but it doesn’t fully resolve what will happen to the United States after his death.


Civil War’s Political Approach & Ideas Explained

A24’s dark war drama Civil War takes an interesting approach in how it addresses the political lines that might necessitate all-out war in America.

Because there’s no indication of what the United States looks like once the war is over, Jessie’s final image acts as an objectively-observed final statement about the future of the country. As time goes on, this could be interpreted as a great victory or a horrific act, depending on how history evolves and views her photos in the future. Because of how Civil War portrays journalism as an observatory practice, the final photo can have different meanings depending on who looks at it.

Civil War
is currently playing in theaters.

Source: Inverse

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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