American Sniper versus Das Boot

I’ve always had a soft spot for Clint Eastwood. However, it sounds like his most recent film, American Sniper, is one of his more artistically irresponsible movies. One of the most easily overlooked aspects of the nexus of fiction and propaganda is the choice of whose story to tell. War movies told from the viewpoint of our soldiers, with little extraneous commentary, inherently tend to buttress national chauvinism.

One of my favorites of this genre is Das Boot, precisely because it reverses the usual dynamic. Das Boot tells the story of the troops in a German U-boat. Who could be more savage than actual Nazis? It turns out that on the other side of the trenches from the Saving Private Ryan crew, the enemy troops were also teenagersĀ having trouble growing beards, making fun of their leaders, and experiencing varying degrees of disillusionment with the war.

How much more interesting would it be see a movie about a sniper in Saddam’s army as his troops melt away amid low morale and under the onslaught of the superpower? It would provide an opportunity for us to learn about the cleavages of Iraqi society at the time and the horrors that still awaited them after the initial rapid conquest.


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