World Reports

Rubens Gerchman, Secure Your Future, 1967. Photographic reproduction by unknown author.


Commentary on the film directed by Paul Greengrass

World Reports, a film starring Tom Hanks, should receive a handful of Oscar nominations. A melancholic, humanist western, with beautiful cinematography, direction and soundtrack, which fits well in the revisionist line of history of the not-quite-United States of America.

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a civil war veteran, is tasked with bringing news to the most isolated corners of the South still scarred by defeat. He reads newspapers for a few coins in each village. And right at the beginning of the narrative he finds an orphan girl, Johanna, of German origin (impressively played by Helena Zengel), whose parents were killed and was raised by Indians from the Kiowa nation, also eliminated by the bloodthirsty white advance in the prairies. She is an orphan duo, abandoned and not speaking a word of English.

The captain makes it his mission to deliver it to distant relatives, uncles who live in another state, 500 km away. The journey will not be easy, and the relationship between them is being built in a subtle way, supported by stunning images and a discreet and efficient soundtrack.

If you want to know more, watch the movie; you will not regret it. A sensitive and introspective retelling of the classic American western, where moviegoers will recognize the obvious reference to the classic right away. Hate Trails, from 1956. There, another civil war veteran, John Wayne, found a girl, his niece, who had her parents killed and was kidnapped and raised by the Indians.

Here I want to call attention to a detail, a subplot that may go unnoticed by some people, and that will not interfere with the enjoyment of the narrative. The film, based on a novel by Paulette Jiles, News of the Word, accompanies a pre-radio, pre-television news presenter. And the news he narrates is not always good.

Director Paul Greengrass exposes the scars of the Civil War, showing the uncontainable rancour of southerners when the news refers to the “central government”. The public behaves in an unequal way: it either reacts savagely, cursing the politicians, or passively, bovinely accepting the information selected by the captain-reader.

A few coins drip into his mug, enough for him to go to another location to continue his task. In one of them, he is rudely surrounded by a gang, headed by a guy who is the law of the place: he is mayor, police chief and judge, and everyone works for him. Imagine a kind of Serra Pelada, in the 70s, with a reporter facing a Major Curió…

The scene in which the tortured Captain Kidd (yes, he has a crisis of conscience!) achieves greater empathy with his audience is when he abandons political or economic stories, which directly affect people's lives, and narrates a news, a mere curiosity, which provokes general laughter. The audience grows, the coins jingle with more resonance.

The embryo of the “journalism” of our times is portrayed there. Entertainment instead of what really matters. The spectacularization of the news, the emphasis on oddities instead of political and economic maneuvers that will directly affect people's lives. The dramatization of facts, throwing dust in the spectator's eyes. Instead of saying that gasoline prices rose 7%, and that this will affect the entire production chain, including the price of rice on the market, our TV sends a reporter (preferably handsome) to a gas station, where he/she a will say theatrically that “gasoline now at this pump costs 5,10 a liter”. Ah, the rage at the gas station pump!

Captain Kidd doesn't even need such a ruse. Intuitively, he discovers that talking about the supposedly dead who rose from the dead, about the father who threw his daughter out the window, about the fight between so and so on the BBB, can yield more audience (and profit) than talking about serious matters that affect the community and lead to a mobilization. The news that is not going to change anything in anyone's life, properly dramatized, is a guaranteed success. It is a forerunner of the media of our times, no doubt.

Will the captain find the uncles and return the girl? Well there it is with you. Prepare the popcorn and have fun!

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.


World Reports (News of the World)

USA, 2020, 119 minutes.

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Cast: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Tom Astor, Andy Kastelic, Travis Johnson, Mare Winningham.


See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • A myopic logicRED MAN WALKING _ 12/06/2024 By LUIS FELIPE MIGUEL: The government does not have the political will to make education a priority, while it courts the military or highway police, who do not move a millimeter away from the Bolsonarism that they continue to support
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives