Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why is American Sniper destroying box office records?

How is a rated R movie about an unpopular war destroying box office records this weekend? 

I think it is a combination of the person Chris Kyle was and the desire to feel a sense of justification for the war in Iraq. 

Chris Kyle was a compelling person because of the rare and genuine WWII era patriotism he exhibited. No matter how you feel about the Iraq War’s initial justification, once our troops were in Iraq, those attacking were mostly principled insurgents and sworn enemies of the U.S. They weren’t fighting for Iraqi independence, but rather to disrupt the reorganizing of the nation, post-Saddam Hussein. Kyle was involved in the vast sweeps of Iraqi cities to rid them of insurgents so Iraqi citizens could live peacefully as a new government was formed. There are impassioned differences of opinion about the U.S. conducting this war/nation rebuilding operation, but for the period Kyle was there, it was an apparent “good vs. evil” type mission, and that’s what he was fighting for. Of course, for him and his comrades, it was also a fight to keep each other safe and successful. 

So, as a snap shot of a war that makes most Americans uneasy, Chris Kyle’s patriotism, heroism, and success are something to appreciate. Furthermore, the movie gives insight to the hardship of our military volunteers and their families. It pictures the incredible struggle they endure with stressful separations, then assimilating in and out of two vastly different worlds- tense foreign combat and suburban American family life. We get a glimpse at the life-altering injuries many soldiers must live with, coupled with the psychological damage myriads suffer (Kyle died trying to help a soldier with PTSD). The movie did a commendable job steering clear of the most controversial elements of the War (politics/religion/economics) and told a true story of an uncommon, authentic human being, who displayed a humility that allows us to relate with him. 

I do wish the film would have revealed, as the book did, Kyle’s maturing Christian faith. There is a selflessness about Kyle that is remarkable, even Christlike. After all, it was Jesus who said and then demonstrated- “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) The fact “American Sniper” is on pace to have the biggest opening weekend in U.S. film history is a testimony to the movie striking just the right chord at just the right time.

1 comment:

Woody Woodward said...

We are going to see the film Friday afternoon. I heard a most compelling interview with Bill O'Reily last night. It was recorded 3 years back and O'Reilly drilled him hard on how he felt killing over 150. Kyle didn't budge from his position. He said, "I have no regrets. Every scavenger I killed resulted in the saved lives of not only our soldiers but innocent Iraqi citizens. I would do it all over again if I could."
If the brave warrior Kyle was still alive, I would like to see how he would react to the arrogant big mouth Michael Moore, calling Kyle a coward to Kyle's face. By the way I have heard folks say the most moving part of the film was after the credits, filming of Kyle’s funeral and an interview with his mother. “Hollywood, try to explain why such success of this box office bonanza?”