So I just read that Clint Eastwood feels his film American Sniper is the “biggest antiwar statement” he’s made as a filmmaker. Why? Because it shows the horrible physical and psychological effects that combat has on soldiers, to paraphrase Clint.
Having seen American Sniper, I saw the film’s presentation of combat as merely honest and unflinching, not necessarily antiwar. Definitely not a glorification of war, but a straightforward depiction.
The film doesn’t come right out and make a statement condemning, or even questioning, the Iraq War, or war in general, (nor does it make war look ‘fun’). As for Clint’s ‘antiwar’ insistence, uh…the AQI terrorists in the film are not exactly presented as folks we have no business fighting.
Perhaps I’ve just come to expect purported “antiwar” movies to be overwrought and heavy-handed with their communication of pacifist sentiment.
Simply showing the brutal, bloody honesty of modern day warfare isn’t enough to qualify a War movie as “antiwar”. If such were the case, Saving Private Ryan would be the most powerful antiwar movie ever made.
Saving Private Ryan, as some have noted, is not antiwar. It’s anti-Nazi.
While Saving Private Ryan’s GIs bitch about the mission they’ve been tasked with, not once do any of them suggest the Allies shouldn’t be fighting the Axis. Aside from one GI with initial doubts, it’s pretty much agreed that the Third Reich and its goons were/are definitely worth beating back and wiping out. With gusto.
Saving Private Ryan’s one moment of compassion shown towards the enemy, when Tom Hanks’ character is convinced by one of his men to release a German POW rather than execute him, later comes back to fatally bite Hanks, in a manner of speaking. Contrived though it may be, that moment serves to illustrate the error of that earlier decision, for the audience, as well as the Corporal who argued the enemy soldier be spared.
Eastwood’s WWII flick, Letters From Iwo Jima, a feature-length whitewash of the Imperial Japanese, may also have been intended as antiwar, but was merely a dishonest mess, both historically and morally.
Having finished Iris Chang’s book “The Rape Of Nanking” not long before I sat down to watch Letters From Iwo Jima, it’s the only Eastwood-directed film I’ve had to shut off out of disgust. Yet he says Letters From Iwo Jima’s one of his favorite War movies. To each his own.
For the most part, I love Clint Eastwood’s movies, but, I have to admit, I find some of his personal views a bit strange.
Fortunately, with American Sniper, Eastwood’s made a film, not a polemic. He may feel he’s crafted an antiwar statement, but the movie itself is a bit more open to interpretation than his comments let on.
My recommendation? Just see the movie and make up your own mind.