Movie 'American Sniper': Fact VS Fiction

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The movie American Sniper is a movie about a real war hero, but how much of it is fact? The director of the movie, Clint Eastwood, said that is based on a true story of a man named Chris Kyle who was in the U.S. Navy. However, I believe that is a false claim and the movie is a lot of over-dramatization and incorrect information. I will be discussing what is true and what is false about the characters, his time in the war, his family, and his fallen friends.

In the movie, it begins with a basic introduction of a family who has to deal with the tragedy of having a loved one in the armed forces. In this case, the man was named Chris Kyle and he was an honorable member of the Navy. He enlisted at age 30 after losing all he had. He was a member of the rodeo and that failed after a horrible injury he sustained. He then broke up with his girlfriend and decided to make his mark by protecting our country after seeing the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassy. He gets deployed four times throughout his tough career and his family is put through a lot.

The film takes you on a journey to see the life of a man who went through so much for this country. He is considered one of the greatest snipers of all time and had over 200 confirmed kills. Kyle even gained a large bounty on his head due to the accuracy he was able to display and his kill count seemed to rise very steadily. He worked very hard to make a living and do his duty to the country, but the movie seemed to glamorize the idea of being in the war.

The characters in the movie were mostly all true, or at least based off of people that were with Chris Kyle in war. Towards the middle of the film, a man named Ryan Job was shot and seriously injured by the “bad guy”. The movie claimed he passed away after being shot and only ever got to propose to his girlfriend, but that is not true. In real life, Ryan survived the horrific injury and went on to marry his girlfriend and later on passed away during a reconstruction surgery. The director only falsified one other character in the movie, and it was a man named Marc Lee. I believe that the director was justified in doing that because it added another person to the plot and allowed us to get another backstory. Marc was portrayed as stubborn and not faithful, which ultimately led to Kyle to blame that for his death. In reality, Marc was actually a decent friend of his and even attended his funeral back home.

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Chris was said to have married his wife before his first tour. He met her at a bar and they quickly fell in love. In Between Kyle’s deployments, she gave birth to two beautiful children and Chris was able to be a part of their lives every time he was able to come home.All of the sources I have looked at, and even his book, proved all of this to be true. Kyle was a very big family man and every time he was able to spend time with his kids, he would take that opportunity and teach them life skills and give them lessons on how to be a respectful person. His wife considered divorce many times while he was deployed because of how hard it was to accomplish things without him.

One part of this movie that was surprisingly true was the fact that Chris had a bounty on his head. This means that the enemy had a 20,000 dollar reward to anyone that could identify and kill Chris. The bounty claimed that he was easy to recognize due to the large tattoo that he had on his arm. “Kyle explained in an interview to Conan O’Brien that, even though he stood out from other American snipers because of his tattoo, the reward was offered for any American sniper insurgents could kill,” said Eliana Dockterman in an article written for TIME titled, “The True Story Behind American Sniper”. This quote shows that the bounty was in fact true to the tale and it was a very scary part in Chris’s battle.

Another key point in the movie that was incorrectly shown by the director was how Kyle was in the battlefield. He was a very good sniper and became well known for that, but the movie made him out to be a little more than that. One author, Dan Lamothe, from The Washington Post, decided to fact check the scene where he killed the “bad guy”, Mustafa. The shot was recorded as the longest one he ever attempted, which would have been about 1.19 miles. “He did take a shot that long, but it hit an insurgent with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, according to his book,” said Lamothe. This shows that the director was attempting to add action to the story by making it seem as if he made the shot with the gun alone.

All the information that has allowed us to see the sad reality of Chris’s life came from a book he was writing for his wife. The director replaced the book with a cellphone to make it seem as if it was easy for them to communicate during battles. The cellphone was shown all throughout the movie and was one of the biggest symbols in the movie, meaning it was a way for him to feel like he was back home with his family. In reality, Chris barely got to talk to his wife or children at all during the time he was away, especially due to the area that they were staying at. Removing the book aspect from the movie allowed for the director to add more intense scenarios, especially by having the wife on the phone while Chris was in battle.

There was one scene in the movie that was very questionable to me. Chris Kyle was shown killing a young child and his mother because they were carrying a grenade. After looking through the article from TIMES mentioned earlier, this was disproven. The article stated, “Though Kyle’s first kill was a woman, according to his memoir, he did not kill her child”, (Dockterman). The director of the movie must have thought that adding this scene would boost the emotional tension, but I think it was overall unnecessary. I believe that this put Chris in an even worse light then he already was in.

One part of the movie that they did stay true to was the death of Chris Kyle. After the war, he decided to not sit around in sadness and attempted and help people just like him. He took a veteran out to a shooting range, but the veteran was very mentally disturbed due to PTSD from his time in the war. The man accidentally shot and killed Chris that day, leaving his legacy behind for his family, friends, and the country. The movie then showed the amazing ceremony and memorial for Chris which showed how loved he was, even by strangers. There were thousands of people lined up all over roadways holding signs in memory of him. Chris Kyle is the perfect example of a national hero and even if the story of him has been glamourize, we are able to figure out what is fact and what is fiction. “Iraqi insurgents called him 'The Devil,' but to American and coalition forces fighting in Iraq, U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Kyle was a guardian angel,” ( DiMarco).

The movie American Sniper told the tale of Chris Kyle in a way that was more fiction than fact. The movie was filled with good things like his family, friends, and accomplishments, but all of those were dramatized for the glamour of Hollywood. If it were not for Chris and his book, there would have been no way for us to be able to see the reality of what being deployed is like. I discussed how the director had made up things about his friends and accomplishments and even how they replaced the book he wrote in with a cellphone. The director tried his best to honor an amazing hero while also making it more entertaining for the people which is something that just happens in the movie industry.

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