Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’: A Poignant Film, but a Detestable Message

In “American Sniper,” Clint Eastwood tells the true story of an American sniper who killed more than 160 people in Iraq. It is a subject which has caused controversy, with the director being accused of creating propaganda for the American army. While our contributor Charlotte Barbaza recognizes a few positive qualities in “American Sniper,” this doesn’t prevent her from branding it as an “ultra-Republican” film.

Winner at the last Oscars in the “Best Sound Editing” category, with six nominations and having already grossed more than $400 million, “American Sniper” is without a doubt one of Clint Eastwood’s greatest successes.

Following its first screening in France, on Wednesday, Feb. 18, the film has registered more than 160,000 ticket sales, an unprecedented amount for the director in France.

Topping the American box office for several weeks, the film caused controversy across the Atlantic, the reason being that, although it’s among Clint Eastwood’s best films, “American Sniper” puts across an entirely detestable message.

An Ultra-Republican Film

Clint Eastwood made a fool of himself during his speech in support of Mitt Romney: At the time we feared for his mental health.

However, today he seems to be back at the top of his game. The figures bear witness to this: “American Sniper” is up at the same level as “Gran Torino,” “Million Dollar Baby” or “Invictus.”

Very well-filmed, methodical, well-produced, intelligent, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, the film is very interesting despite some monotonous passages (which is normal with a 135 minute running time). And as for Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, they are impeccable.

However, “American Sniper” still remains a film which hides behind an obsessive patriotism in order to glorify war and violence. It tells the story of Chris Kyle, “the most lethal man in America,” an extraordinary sniper who killed more than 160 people while carrying out his missions in Iraq. The film is based on the autobiography of the same name written by the United States Navy SEAL.

According to Clint Eastwood, “the screenplay is better than the book.”* We can understand why his production is biased. The director has made an ultra-Republican film for which Sarah Palin or George W. Bush could certainly ensure the promotion.

Glorification of a Murderer

This film never questions the reasons, which are more than contentious, which led to the war in Iraq. Using flashbacks and familial scenes to tug at our heart strings, Chris Kyle is presented as a true American hero, a “shepherd” who has fought his entire life to protect his “flock,” including his family and above all his sacred American homeland.

He does not hesitate to make personal and sentimental sacrifices but “his family can wait while America and the war cannot.” At the end of his four missions and after having killed 160 people for military reasons, his only regret is to “not have been able to protect more people, especially soldiers under his orders.”

The presentation of his character painfully lacks nuance and leads to an almost caricatured glorification of a killer. Clint Eastwood makes Chris Kyle the symbol of a winning America.

Biased Depictions of Women

Finally, “American Sniper” is particularly irritating in its misogynistic nature. Women in the film are portrayed as one of three completely biased depictions: female terrorists who warn their husbands of the Americans’ arrival or who throw grenades at the soldiers’ backs, a woman who cheats on her boyfriend (Bradley Cooper) with a cowboy, or the loving wife (Sienna Miller) who stays at home to look after the children and selfishly tries to prevent her husband from returning to defend his homeland.

Chris Kyle comes from Texas. Apparently, over there, women aren’t respected for who they are. Clint Eastwood comes from the cinema; the reality he portrays is sexist, violent and belligerent.

Although he effectively tackles the issue of the soldier’s return to reality and all the post-traumatic problems which can ensue, the film fails to bring into question American proselytism.

*The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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