He steadies his breathing (if you’ve played Call of Duty,then you understand) with his finger on the trigger of his rifle…he pears through the scope’s lens and out walks a women with a child. Her arms don’t swing, the boy is close to her, she’s hiding something…It’s a grenade!! The tank escort with Marines are coming down the street unaware of the woman and child. But Kyle is on Overwatch, So he sees them…his eyes say, he dreads the next move.
He takes the shot…
A week ago I went to see American Sniper. I like Clint Eastwood’s eye for directing (Angelina Jolie as well), in the past several years he has told stories in such elegant and compelling ways. Much like British television and other European film makers. Foreign film makers (not all) tend to take their time in telling the story. American film makers often rush through the story far too much. If it’s action, something must blow up! and frequently too. If it’s romance, the clothes come off or the film starts without clothes altogether.
I heard about the Chris Kyle autobiography long before the movie. So seeing the story brought to life in Eastwood’s hands was a big draw for me. After the opening scene we are whisked away to Kyle’s childhood where he learns to protect others, a hard lesson. The story moves forward and later returns to the opening where he squeezes the trigger…yes, the kills them. The viewer is treated to an intense inside glimpse of military life. Just like in Lone Survivor the Marcus Luttrell story (saw it with my wife) the difference is, that this is not about enduring a firefight chase through the woods and mountains. No, this story is about the other guys, the sharp shooters, that lay down cover fire so that their brothers in arms can get out! At that point no one cares about the president, the flag or their country…it’s about fighting along side with and for your brothers/sisters. It’s about putting a large caliber bullet into another person to stop them in their tracks.
The story is about a man doing the job he was hired to do and was dawn good at it. He was hired by the United States Department of Defense to be a Navy Seal, elite soldiers…If you’re in trouble, I highly doubt anyone would call Ghost Busters. Kyle volunteered for the job because we have a volunteer armed forces. If I remember correctly, you must serve 2 years in the Israeli army.Other countries have their terms of service too…there are some countries where the soldiers are taken as children and forced to fight. Chris Kyle, at 30 years old volunteered.
American Sniper is also about a husband and father. About a wife who is madly in love with her husband and finds it difficult to raise her kids alone, like other military families. Taya Kyle, watches in horror as her husband’s light disappears from his eyes. She, as we do also, watches how 4 years of war change the smiling man, to an emotionless shell of who he was. In one scene they go to the hospital to check on the baby…he sits still and quiet…but when the doctor checks his blood pressure it’s very high.
Taya, at one point, pleads with Chris to return to her…she meant the man that he was before his 4 Tours of Duty. When Kyle does return, we see but a glimpse of his war to return to Chris Kyle. The stress of fighting/war is hell on a body both mentally and physically, we see it prominently in the film The Hurt Locker. And married couples feel the toll on their relationship as well, when they constantly argue and fight.
I sat and wonder what my grandfathers, cousins and uncles and father saw and how it affected them…my grandfathers and older relatives served during WW l & II. My Dads father was part of the Red Ball Express http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=43934 I also wondered what it was like for King David, Gideon etc. They fought with swords and were eye to eye with their enemies. How long did it take for them to recover after a long hard battle?
The tears fell when I listened to Taya’s plead and watched her reaction to Kyle’s distance from her and the kids. I wondered what my wife felt watching melt away to severe panic attacks /2015/01/20/becoming-unglued-when-the-world-looks-different/ We’ve talked about it a little in the past but I don’t really know what it felt like for her to see me like that…
Controversy. I read a few things here and there, of course I read the texts and statements of the celebrities and the complaints of our 20+ year old daughter…”It’s about war! and anti-Islam…hating Muslims and he was a racist too!” (she didn’t even see the movie). Others said it was “Pro war”…Well! You might want to stop reading from this point…you will be offended!
The shift in American culture has gone off the deep end. I don’t see soldiers and say that line (which has become cliche) “Thank you for you service” or “Their fighting for our freedoms” I usually just have a normal conversation. Sometimes I’ll ask how long they’ve been home and has the transition been okay. I grew up being told not to fight girls, respect my elder even in a disagreement, pay for the date and treat her like a lady, respect the cops, don’t embarrass your parents by acting simple minded, young ladies don’t act like that, ladies don’t talk like that…etc. You see where this is going right? Now, from the folks next door, the TV, Movies, tablets and cells, all you hear is “suck my..” “B….” “He’s a …” ” Shut your old …. up!” and the ever popular, Reality shows have all manner of vulgarity on them. Anything that comes close to commonsense or decency is automatically hated. Culture has shifted to pro-gay, anti-hetero. pro-youth, hide the old. pro-Muslim, atheist, humanist, secularist…but anti-christian. Pro- political correctness and anti-commonsense. The culture shifted from boys being boys, acting like boys, dressing like boys…to, getting them so in-touch with their feminine side that their shaving off beard, eye brows, arm hairs and so on… And we find isms in everything, why my last paragraph will be labeled at least 10 of them…
There is no wonder as to why the celebrities and others react in such a way to a true story. Because the culture has shifted to removing any and all emotions…save sex, hatred and vulgarity(it seems). So when something so violently true and honest flies in the face of modern pop culture, there can only be such a visceral response. As I said above, this movie was about more than a war, it was about a man, a husband and father. It was about what so many other military families deal with…living with the stress and reality of combat.
We will except fantasy like Shooter or The Kingdom and Hunger Games…but a real story?
Until next time…