Between Patriotism and Pacifism: The Ambivalent Narrative in Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper
96 , 20160301 , 県立広島大学
American Sniper (2014) is the first war film directed by Clint Eastwood since Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), so-called“ Iwo Jima Project.” The project includes both of the Japanese and American sides of stories regarding the tragic battle in the Pacific Ocean in the World War II, and thus rejects to narrate the war in the simple plot based on justice / evil binary opposition. It focuses less on the battle scenes than on the individual and personal point of view of each soldiers mobilized in the war. Although each of the two films has main characters, they are not“ heroes,” who bravely fight against the enemy and support his comrades in propaganda war films. These two films mirror the director’s pacifist aspect by avoiding portraying war violence, which might excite the audience, and by emphasizing the absurdity of the war through the absence of heroes.
Unlike the two films above, American Sniper primarily portrays Chris Kyle, the legendary war hero, who killed more than 160 enemies in Iraq. This film inevitably contains more violence than the two films of “Iwo Jima Project.” In this study, I will assert that American Sniper does not negate violent human nature, which differentiates this film from the preceding two war films. I will also point out that the ambiguous narrative of this film, which reciprocates between the sides of various binary oppositions including patriotism / pacifism and inclination toward / against violence, creates the moral situation, where one is forced to subjectively face the question: What is justice?