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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Life + Arts

Coming home isn’t the same in ‘American Sniper’


Written by Jason Hall and directed by Clint Eastwood, "American Sniper" has sparked a national dialogue on Eastwood's political motivations as a director.  |  Courtesy of Village Roadshow Productions

Written by Jason Hall and directed by Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper” has sparked a national dialogue on Eastwood’s political motivations as a director. | Courtesy of Village Roadshow Productions

As the war in the Middle East winds down, many individuals have made history throughout the 10-year conflict. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was one of them.

In Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood’s newest film, “American Sniper,” Bradley Cooper stars as Kyle, known by the Navy as the deadliest sniper with the most kills.

Because of Eastwood’s Republican background, some wonder if he utilizes his ideology to justify the war in Afghanistan. However, Eastwood’s film delves into an exploration of the service member’s mental and emotional journey rather than focusing strictly on politics and policy.

The real story isn’t about Kyle’s high number of sniper kills or his road to “success”; rather, it’s a story about Kyle’s and countless other service members’ combat mindset — before, during and after his time overseas.

The view that Eastwood and Cooper try to portray is not whether the deadliest sniper was a hero, but that he was human. He —  like many of us who deployed before and after him — are not going because of any hyper-patriotic “’Murica” sentiments, or to blow up buildings. The film serves to remind moviegoers that in any war, service members hold protecting their comrades above all else.

Kyle’s number one priority — regardless of whether he loved to kill “savages,” as reported in The Guardian — was to protect those on foot. When he is unable to save everybody, he considered it a failure. This is taught in every military branch: having accountability, taking responsibility and constantly remembering that one mistake can cost a life or a limb.

Despite one’s views on the conflict in the Middle East or whether Kyle is worthy of praise, the majority of moviegoers can agree on this: war is ugly and horrible.

When Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Student Veterans of America national conference this month, he reminded the service members-turned-students that, although they were out of the military, their job was not done.

“America needs you, your brother and sisters need you,” Biden said, referring to the growing veteran population and their transition upon returning home.

The unfortunate demise of Kyle was not during war, but while helping his comrade who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

While the number of PTSD patients grows, along with criticism of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ handling of medical treatment, the film is a reminder to its audience, including veterans, that the job of caring for their comrades is never finished.

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