‘American Sniper’: What Happened in Real Life After the Movie Fades to Black

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

American Sniper: How army sharpshooter Chris Kyle’s story has become a political battleground.

Before it was a high-grossing, Oscar-nominated movie starring Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper” was a best-selling memoir by former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. In the States, it’s this week’s most popular film, and everyone involved claims it has nothing to do with politics. “Really,” star actor Bradley Cooper stressed over and again in interviews, director Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper simply explains the “plight” of a soldier, and provides a “character study”.

might have opened up to record numbers and might have pulled in six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, but there’s one thing that people won’t drop: the fake baby. “Hate to ruin the fun but real baby #1 showed up with a fever.Seth Rogen has moved to clarify his controversial comments about Bradley Cooper’s acclaimed movie “American Sniper,” insisting his remarks have been “blown out of proportion.” The star hit headlines on Monday after he tweeted about the Oscar-nominated drama and appeared to compare it to Nazi propaganda footage shown in Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed World War II film “Inglourious Basterds.” The post sparked a wave of online outrage, prompting Rogen to return to the site to clarify his comment, writing, “I just said something ‘kinda reminded’ me of something else.

Whether you’ve already seen the movie, want context before you go or just want to know more about the man behind the story, here is what you need to know about Kyle. Despite the explanation, critics and moviegoers are still panning the plastic doll, with an audience even laughing out loud in one theater when the now-infamous toy hit the big screen. Before he was shot dead at a Texas gun range two years ago, Kyle, who claimed that he killed scores of people as a sniper in Iraq, oozed conviction and charisma. Critic Camilla Long wrote in her review for the Sunday Times that she had “never seen so many terrible fake babies in one film.” Victoria Alexander of the Las Vegas Informer believed that the movie would be so much better if Eastwood had “left out the annoying, under-written personal story – and the glaring fake babies.

He was honorably discharged in 2009. “Devil of Ramadi”: In Iraq, Kyle was so well-known that he was given the nickname “Devil of Ramadi” by Iraqi insurgents, who put a bounty on his head. One of his often-cited anecdotes is making the decision to shoot a woman who was holding a grenade underneath her clothes — but who also had a child standing nearby — as Marines approached. The conversation that now shadows American Sniper – which was released worldwide last Friday, and collected a record $105m (£69m) in the US over the weekend – has been no different.

Best-selling memoir: After he returned home, Kyle wrote a book about his experiences abroad, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. After early screenings, which the Associated Press called an “unprecedented success”, the film has been subject to widespread praise among conservatives for depicting an American soldier at his best, and condemnation among liberals who question the admitted pleasure Kyle took in killing and dehumanising Iraqis. Then there were the tales Kyle told about himself, which came under increasing suspicion after numerous journalists tried – and failed – to corroborate them [see right].

Among them: he shot dead two armed Texas thugs who wanted to steal his pick-up truck; and he travelled to New Orleans and killed 30 bad guys in the chaos following Hurricane Katrina. It’s a lesson that journalist Rania Khalek learnt last week when she let loose with a series of tweets that took aim at Kyle’s book, also named American Sniper. “Savage, despicable evil,” Kyle wrote. “That’s what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy ‘savages.’ There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there.” He later added: “There’s another question people ask a lot: ‘Did it bother you killing so many people in Iraq?’ I tell them, ‘No.’ … I loved what I did. … I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun.” To Khalek, any movie that lionises Kyle represents “dangerous propaganda that sanitises a mass killer and rewrites the Iraq War”. Fight against PTSD: Kyle helped found FITCO Cares, a nonprofit group that helped those struggling with PTSD, where he mentored other veterans with war injuries. On Saturday, The Interview actor Seth Rogen, who himself just emerged from a political storm, said, “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie showing in the third act of Inglourious Basterds,” referencing a Nazi propaganda film inside Quentin Tarantino’s film that glorifies a sniper.

In “American Sniper,” Kyle writes that he punched and knocked down Ventura on the sidewalk outside a California bar for making disparaging comments about the war in Iraq, a claim Ventura denied. But that wasn’t before he got walloped: “Amazing considering guys like Kyle are the reason you’re not sitting in a N Korean prison right now,” one person told him.

Kyle started his own company: When he left the Navy in 2009, Kyle cofounded Craft International, which provided tactical training to military and law enforcement. But, he added, “Most of us were taught the story of Jesse James and that the scoundrel wasn’t James (who was a criminal who killed people) but rather the sniper who shot him in the back. Hopefully not on this weekend when we remember that man in Memphis, Tennessee, who was killed by a sniper’s bullet.” Even Sarah Palin entered the fray, excoriating “Hollywood leftists” for “spitting on the graves of freedom fighters who allow you to do what you do, just realise the rest of American knows you’re not fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots”. The exchanges are just the latest eruption in a long culture war. “As screenings have sold out, the conservative media has manned barricades against liberals who have attacked the movie,” conservative David Weigel wrote for Bloomberg.

He noted that much of the controversy involves the extended battle over guns – and gun control – and pits pro-Iraq war conservatives against anti-war liberals. It’s called “American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms.” USA TODAY reviewer Stephen Hunter praised it as “a celebration of Kyle’s voice and life.” Also published: “The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL,” an e-book by journalist Michael J. But it also hints at another gulf in American politics: the plummeting number of Americans who serve in the armed services has given rise to a widening divide between civilians and combat veterans. If there is any cultural force that exacerbates misunderstandings, it’s films such as American Sniper, according to Karl Eikenberry and David Kennedy in The New York Times.

Hollywood depicts superhuman teams of special operations forces snuffing out their adversaries with clinical precision.” Chris Kyle, muscle-bound, grim-faced and lethal, liked to tell stories. Leaving the Seals and returning to Texas in 2009, the tales became taller. “After his incredible military career, he felt such high pressure to maintain his image,” says Mooney , and one way he did this was through bar fights, blaming his behaviour on “pent-up aggression”.

He told a story in his book of one time that he and a pal pummelled a few “wannabe Ultimate Fighters” in a bar. “I would rather get my ass beat than look like a pussy in front of my boys,” he wrote. Two armed men, he said, approached him and told him to hand over the keys to his black Ford F350 pick-up truck. “I told them I would get them the keys,” he told Mooney. “I told them they were in the truck and to just let me reach in.” Kyle then claimed he reached into the car, pulled out a gun and, shooting under his armpit, killed both men. “It’s true,” he said. Reporters, including the New Yorker’s Nicholas Schmidle, called some of the nearby county sheriffs and none of them knew of it. “I went to every single gas station [nearby],” Mooney explained. “I talked to every single law enforcement out there, all the Texas rangers — and there’s no evidence whatsoever.” Years after those alleged killings, Kyle had another story to tell.

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