By Hannah Schultz, News Editor
Millions packed into theaters around the U.S. for the release of the new Clint Eastwood movie, “American Sniper,” last weekend. In Lexington, cars lined the curbs to squeeze into sold-out shows at the Cinemark at Fayette Mall. Amstar Cinemas in Brannon Crossing reported numbers outranking Christmas Day or even Black Friday, which are usually the busiest days of the year for the theater. “American Sniper” shattered expectations with its 105 million dollar opening weekend—unheard of for a downbeat, R-rated movie released in the middle of January. Not only did it break box-office predictions, it also sparked controversial discussions.
The film, which is based on the real-life story of Navy SEAL marksman Chris Kyle, depicts the story of an American sniper, played by Bradley Cooper, who deals with the realities of war while serving in Iraq. As expected, the movie has caused a rift between conservatives and liberals. A review on right-wing website Breitbart.com calls it a “patriotic, pro-war on terror masterpiece.” However, left-wing critics question Hollywood’s glorification of a man who wrote in his memoir that the Iraqis are “savages” and his “only regret is that I didn’t kill more.”
Many expressed personal feelings about the film. On Sunday, filmmaker Michael Moore said on Twitter, “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”
The tweet caused backlash across social media. Newt Gingrich, former U.S. House Speaker, said, “Michael Moore should spend a few weeks with ISIS and Boko Haram. Then he might appreciate@AmericanSniper. I am proud of our defenders.”
Notably, Sarah Palin, who befriended Kyle after he served on her security detail in 2011, wrote a Facebook post on Monday which attacked those who are unsupportive of the movie. “Hollywood leftists: while caressing shiny plastic trophies you exchange among one another while spitting on the graves of freedom fighters who allow you to do what you do, just realize the rest of America knows you’re not fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots,” she said.
Many have criticized Hollywood’s depiction of war in the film, which they still perceive as editorialized despite its real-life basis. “Hollywood has a way of fictionalizing war, of making it all about ‘us’ and ‘them,’” Karen Zacharias said in a CNN article. “I have traveled to my father’s battlefield in Vietnam and I have befriended Vietnamese who lost even more than I did during the war. I have learned there is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ There is only ‘us.’ Humanity. All of us. I wish Hollywood would make a war movie that gets that point across.”