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What ‘American Sniper’ Gets Right – And Wrong – About War46:24
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“American Sniper.” Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s war film keeps crushing at the box office and stirring more controversy. We’ll go to it.

In the new film "American Sniper," Bradley Cooper plays real-life US Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was the deadliest marksman in American history. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)
In the new film "American Sniper," Bradley Cooper plays real-life US Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was the deadliest marksman in American history. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

"American Sniper" has lit up movie theaters across the country like no January release ever.  The story of famed Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle and his 160 confirmed kills in Iraq.  Its box office receipts worldwide are over $250 million already and still roaring.  So is the conversation – debate, controversy – over American Sniper’s message and morals and meaning.  Is it pro- war?  Anti-war?  Is it a story of American heroism?  Should it be?  Is it a Hollywood clean-up of a tortured war?  This hour On Point:  "American Sniper."
-- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Anne Helen Petersen, features writer at BuzzFeed News. Author of the book, "Scandals of Classic Hollywood." (@annehelen)

Thomas Gibbons-Neff, former rifleman with the Sixth US Marine Regiment in Afghanistan. Contributing writer at the Washington Post. (@tmgneff)

Rebekah Sanderlin, military wife, freelance writer and blogger. Writes the Operation Marriage blog. Serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families. (@rsanderlin)

From Tom’s Reading List

BuzzFeed: The True Tragedy of "American Sniper" — "I didn’t cry during American Sniper. I felt anxiety and fear, the way that narrative wanted me to, and elation when Kyle made his way into that truck and, ultimately, home. I felt desire for the build of Bradley Cooper, the thickness of it, the way he tucked his polo shirt into his pants, and the sullied baseball cap, because it reminded me of how Luke was built and dressed the same. But Sniper was, at end, a superhero movie. Any frustration I might have felt after the coda was immediately dissipated by a hard cut to actual footage of Kyle’s Cowboy Stadium memorial, set to a melodramatic score, flags billowing mighty and high."

National Review: The Return of the War Hero — "Clint Eastwood’s new movie, American Sniper, marks the return of the American war hero. Heroism on the battlefield had never gone away, of course, far from it (witness the Medals of Honor awarded for acts of extraordinary valor in Iraq and Afghanistan). But the classic war hero is more than just brave or fierce. He is famous and almost universally acclaimed. On top of his battlefield exploits, he is a cultural phenomenon."

SpouseBUZZ: Why ‘American Sniper’ is for Military Wives —  "That this is the first movie to humanize the wives of warriors – to make us out to be more than ribbon-festooned cheerleaders – is almost offensive. It is, or should be, obvious to everyone that combat exposure is not the sum total of a warrior, and that war does not only affect the warrior."

This program aired on January 30, 2015.

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