American Sniper is an incredibly hard hitting film politically and emotionally. War, like many other things in American culture, is something we have all romanticized. War is not glorious or triumphant, war is not proud or moral, and war is certainly not easy or clean. American Sniper reminds us of the terrible, muddy, destruction that is war and the aftermath for cities, innocent bystanders, soldiers and their families.
To create the feeling of complete destruction of the soldier’s moral, director, Clint Eastwood, uses drab colors and uninteresting lighting. While this occasionally makes the film boring to look at, it certainly conveys the emotional drainage of being at war. The dialogues leave much about what each character is thinking to the viewer’s imagination. While this is at times frustrating, and I did yearn for more character insight, I think it is true to the militaristic culture in which the film takes place. The film includes fantastically staged action scenes which, frankly, didn’t interest me all that much, possibly a personal preference. The 24 frames per second and 2.35:1 ratio are nothing extraordinary either.
While this film may be like many others in the military action drama, it certainly carries a larger message and illuminates the dark burdens that we place on the many men and women that serve our country. While many argue that this movie conveyed an overly pro-war attitude, I would have to firmly disagree. The culture of the army is certainly more combat ready and has to ensure the soldiers will support the mission at all costs. So while this movie does an adept job at recreating these emotions, I felt very solidified in my own personal anti-war views coming out of the movie. My reasoning being that this movie swiftly portrayed almost every Iraqi as an enemy. There were few “innocent bystander” Iraqis, whom had fallen victim to circumstance. While this could be viewed as pro-war propaganda, I found it racist and infuriating that the armed forces have such a strong culture of “us vs them” mentality. Additionally, I found the portrayal of PTSD in the soldiers immensely saddening. The movie portrayed the extremely negative effects of war on soldiers bodies, minds and families. This made me feel upset at the prospect of even sending young Americans off to war. The point of view in this film was certainly in a military mindset, but it is a true story about the military. I think in the case of movies such as these, it is up to the viewer to discern how the movie is portraying both the positive and negative aspects of the film.
This is an art piece I created to portray the darkness that emanates from the gun (representing war):