An American biographical film, based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography of the same name (American Sniper), penned by scribe Jason Hall, and directed by the legendary filmmaker Clint Eastwood, tackles the topic of war – war from the point of view of its central character, Kyle, limned passionately by Bradley Cooper, whom, like the rest, is on a mission to fight, but the main task for him is to protect his comrades – Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves lives, but also makes him a prime target of insurgents – known as the ‘legend’ and becomes one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. history.
The IMAX screening of the film, on the 16th of January, was a packed house, where as soon as I found myself in the dark atmosphere, all faces bathed with screen light, a sense of calm was present. Not for one second, I heard a distracting noise, even a cough or a movement. There are times one can’t hold it for a toilet-break, though in this environment not a single soul was bothered or chose not to be. It probably is true that what drew us all to a film like American Sniper is to salute a man who was there as the protector of those, who were on the haunting streets of Iraq, and it is probably also true, for the marketing team behind the film was quite on point, by delivering one of the most thrilling, heart-pounding at its best, teaser trailers (view it here)..
Why is American Sniper working with the audiences as some may wonder. I’ve been busy lately reading its box-office numbers – shattering records, but why? Why a war film?
It’s because a film, when it’s great, it’s build of unity, meaning not a single element is wasted and Eastwood’s film is the result of such unity – a methodically tied-up, well-balanced work. For the audience it works, and we shouldn’t wonder at all why, for we know the story of the troops. We know the story of war, we have been living in war. Just because Iraq or Afghanistan streets were ominously empty, especially post 9/11, it doesn’t mean, we, here, in America, didn’t feel the impact of war. Post 9/11 generation, all they know is war, the minds, hearts are cognizant of the situation the world, the nation is in today. And when it comes to great films, they engage their audience, which brings to mind Steven Speilberg’s masterpiece Schindler’s List, a film that engages us all despite the fact that we know of the Holocaust – it is all about the presentation.
When the credits began rolling, I walked out, hands in my pockets, and just stood by the door to feel the chilly atmosphere, for my mind was boiling the whole time thinking of ten things at once – Cooper’s astonishing performance; the character’s point of view of war and all. As one by one, men, women walked out of the auditorium, looking at them, I wanted to ask, what is your idea of a great film? Yet, I didn’t. I am very character and story oriented. And, what makes me different than them?
What makes American Sniper great cinema is not only the fact that no one in the auditorium got the chance to eat their pop-corn, it’s because great cinema is great moment that saturates one. Audiences were perhaps under the impression that the film they paid for was a pop-corn film. Don’t get me wrong, good cinema is good, but this is about great cinema. This is about what great cinema is, and what it is capable of doing. It is about the journey of hundreds of minds of those, who are sitting in front of a big screen, feeling and most importantly understanding the human truth. Like any other great movie American Sniper dares to show purpose, eagerness, commitment and ambition – American Sniper not only proves the fact that we salute our heroes, but also salute great cinema.