On War Movies

I saw “American Sniper” yesterday.  It was uncomfortable viewing. I appreciated its portrayal of Kyle’s struggles to reintegrate after deployment–something especially difficult, I would think, in a job where you have repeated short deployments with little transition time, and when you are not part of a large unit and so are dealing with reintegration issues alone.

It does a little better job of presenting military life in a believable way–though some of the “Marines” in the movie don’t know how to wear the uniform, covers are worn randomly by Navy and Marines alike (granted, Seals do their own thing). There is not a single PT belt in the entire movie.

Lots of left wing critics are under fire from folks on the right wing for various comments.  Some almost make adultation of the movie a test of patriotism. It isn’t. It’s a movie. It can be judged as a movie, as an adaptation of the book, and for how it presents its subject.  It is fair game for critics.

I have some concerns about the film. I am troubled by a view of the military in which the special operations folks are the superheroes who have to constantly save the ordinary Joe from defeat.

I’m troubled by the black and white world view of the movie’s subject, Chris Kyle (attitudes that are carried over from the book).  I’m troubled by a movie that paints Iraqi people as uniformly “bad.” I’m troubled by the view in the movie and some of its defenders that Americans can invade a country, beat in anyone’s door, disrespect them and their faith, and then brand as “evil” anyone who has a hard time with this.

I’m troubled especially by a movie about transition that doesn’t deal with moral injury, in which the hero’s black and white world view is seen as a sort of shield protecting him from any feelings of guilt.

It is an emotional movie. But it isn’t the defining movie of this war. It does, however, say something about how America wants to view it.