A WRITER’S VOICE: ‘American Sniper’ – Is Your Adaptation Running Toward The Truth?

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In today’s installment of A Writer’s Voice, I’ll be discussing one of the more controversial movies that came out last year: American Sniper by Jason Dean Hall. Let me just start off by saying my politics are certainly not Clint Eastwood’s politics and that made American Sniper a hard movie for me. I think it made American Sniper a hard movie for a lot of people.

I’m not the kind of person who believes, as Chris Kyle says at the beginning of the movie, that there are three types of people in the world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. I’m not a person, like Chris Kyle, who believes that things are purely black and white, and that there’s very little grey. Watching a movie that cuts directly from planes crashing into the World Trade Center to the war of Iraq and makes that argument all over again, linking Iraq to the September 11th attacks, politically – that’s hard for me to watch.

That said, those are the politics of the main character, Chris Kyle. Those are the politics of a lot of people like him who went into this war, believing they are the heroes. Believing that the people they are fighting are savages, and as Americans, they are purely a force of good in the world.

But, there is something to be said about directing and writing a movie that looks at the world through the eyes of your protagonist. The hope of course, as you work on such an adaptation, is that even as you’re looking at the world through their eyes, you’re also maybe revealing something to the audience, and to yourself, that is even more complicated than the main character can see.

Check out the podcast below, in which I’ll further break down the elements in the movie that succeed as well as the areas that could have been pushed much further in both the script and in the movie.

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