Monday, January 26, 2015

My Thoughts on American Sniper

Last night, Travis and I went to see American Sniper.  

This movie is catching all kind of controversy right now.  After I saw it, I read a few pretty detailed reviews and other articles about it to see what people were thinking about it.  I know that a lot of prominent figures in Hollywood have had words to say over it and I was curious as to what other people were saying as well.

A lot of people are upset that the movie just isn't accurate enough. They aren't explaining the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They're making people think that it was caused by 9/11. They're making Chris Kyle out to seem like he was remorseful. They're turning the war into a human interest story...

As someone who know that the War on Terror wasn't a direct result of 9/11 and as someone who can understand the want to defend the freedom of the American people I really enjoyed the movie...most of the criticism surrounding it is saying that they are leaving out way too many details about the war.  Well, film critics and random people alike, I've got news for you...This movie wasn't about the war.  It was about a person.  Chris Kyle.  It's called "American Sniper" not "A War on Terror and American Snipers In General:  An exactly factual documentary on the war in the middle east" 

Since when does Hollywood get everything right and always depict the story exactly as it happened? I feel like they are simply expecting something from a movie that rarely if ever happens.  I swear, people criticizing this movie are assuming that every single viewer will watch it and assume that all of that was real footage and Bradly Cooper is the same guy as Chris Kyle.  It's a movie.  They have to make people like it or it isn't going to make any they're going to dramatize.  Why on earth would you expect anything else?  I'm not really trying to say that it's okay...but it happens with everything.

Example: The movie Captain Phillips.  A very exciting film based on a true story.  It's totally inspiring to watch Tom Hanks "save" everyone on the ship...when if you look into the story a little bit more, the crew members will tell you that Captain Phillips was being arrogant when they went too close to the shore.  That his moves were actually more detrimental than they were helpful...but it was widely liked film that didn't really depict exactly what happened, rather it told a dramatized story about a true event with a more specific protagonist.

So I choose to sort of take this one at face value.  The story in American Sniper is based on a true story about the most lethal sniper in American History.  It notes the issues that soldiers who go to war face.  It talked about readjusting to the regular family lifestyle and PTSD.  And it showed grueling images that state how war is hell.

Maybe instead of seeing all those "bad" things about the movie we can just allow it to symbolize all the brave men and women who have died in the line of duty and those who have suffered the consequences of fighting a war.  


Rebecca Mulford said...

Love this Katie! And now, because I'm a film geek, I wanted to add some film knowledge that supports your posts.

"American Sniper" is the latest box office hit by infamous Director, Clint Eastwood. Many people do not know this, but Directors shape the whole tone and story of a film. It is their vision, and then they employ a cast to carry out their vision. Eastwood is considered an Auteur Director, which are becoming a dying bread. Think, Alfred Hitchcock. But to be more specific, an Auteur Director is defined as "a director that can use the commercial apparatus of film-making in the same way that a writer uses a pen or a painter uses paint and a paintbrush. It is a medium for the personal artistic expression of the director. The film theoretician, André Bazin, explained that: auteur theory was a way of choosing the personal factor in artistic creation as a standard of reference, and then assuming that it continues and even progresses from one film to the next."

I have studied film making and Auteur theory in detail. Auteur Directors do not make a film solely for the purpose of making money. In fact, they have been known to create films, despite receiving feedback about the lack of popularity it may have. They don't care about profit, cause they don't need approval from society. When making a film, such as American Sniper, a Director like Eastwood's sole purpose is to create and express their own opinions and values, particularly when they are passionate about a specific subject. Everyone has the ability to interpret life with their own perception. We can all be watching a live event take place, and leave telling a different story about what transpired. This is all a concept of our own reality. Many are yelling, "Propaganda" over this film. What they fail to see as that any truly artistic film will awaken and affect all who see it in a profound way, and they fail to take accountability for their own perception.

Is this film Propaganda? I cannot argue that it is not. But Clint Eastwood is passionate in his political ideals, and may feel a certain responsibility to inform and influence our culture. Point is, it doesn't matter if you or I agree with the films message. Artistically, in the art of cinema it was accurate in filming technique, and created by a Director who has a personal perspective with his own values and ideals that shape the tone of the film. That certainly doesn't make him right, and I am also not suggesting that he is ignorant to the influence he may have on individuals or groups as a result. Question is, whose responsibility is it to account for those influenced by this film? Is it Eastwood's responsibility? Should we not allow artist to paint what they want, writers to write what they want, and so on?

I think Katie's blog hits the nail on the head. It is a film meant for entertainment, and those who are affected need to take accountability for those emotions. Particularly if they act them out. I personally disliked that the word "Savages" were used in relation to people living in Iraq. I wish (Like in the movie Lone Survivor) we could have seen a more accurate description of those living in Iraq and Afghanistan that are victims of war, just trying to survive, instead of perpetuating an image that all "Arabs" are "evil". However, I still loved the subtleties throughout the film. I though Eastwood did an impeccable job with the cast, and story. And I have never been in such a packed theater that was dead silent as we filed out afterwards. So I say, well done Eastwood. And well done Katie! I love what you said in your last fb comment about taking a positive perspective from the film. Every artists hope is that a wide variety of people will take a piece of their art and interpret it in a personal way that has value to the individual. I'm glad you are vocal about your opinions and back them up. Love reading your Blog.

Katie said...

You're awesome. I love that you took so much time to comment and have such a great and informed opinion. Film is an art. And people need to realize that.

Ashley said...

I loved this movie. Well, I wish I had known more about Chris Kyle before watching it, but otherwise I loved it. Chris Kyle's story is one of those that makes me proud to be an American.

MeandMySoldierMan said...

I like your take

Whitney said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, but my husband did and he really enjoyed it. I like how you discussed it here, gives me a better idea of what I'm in for when i finally watch it... with a blanket and pillow and properly some kleenex just in case.

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