MSNBC’s “The Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell declared “I don’t actually believe” some of the material in the movie or book editions of “American Sniper” on Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
“This is always the lesson of movies are not history books and there’s never been a historical movie, movie based on a true story that has ever been completely accurate…this movie has invented characters, some of the most important characters in the dynamics in the movie, which are the villains are invented and their relationship to the protagonist are invented for the purposes of this movie. And I think what’s driving the discussion about it is the more you understand how far from the recorded truth of this and by the way, I don’t think there is a useable recorded truth of this, because I don’t actually believe a lot of statements in the book that this is based on. That wasn’t written by Chris Kyle, it was written by two ghostwriters for Chris Kyle, who were credited on the book. I think Chris Kyle says things in that book that probably are not true. Jesse Ventura successfully sued Chris Kyle for saying things that were not true, for example. But, let’s just pretend for the moment that there is an available truth here, this movie departs from it wildly and what people are realizing in that is that Clint Eastwood and Jason Hall, the screenwriter, couldn’t find a good movie to make within the available truth of the story told in the book. So they had to change the so-called facts of the story in order to make it work as a movie, and I appreciate that, that happens in movie script discussions all the time” he stated.
O’Donnell added “this movie is absolutely worth seeing just for Bradley Cooper’s performance, it is absolutely brilliant work for him, and he deserves all of the praise he’s getting for that. It is a good movie. That’s my view of it. It’s a good movie with, for me, flaws, that if I were writing that movie, there were different directions I would have taken at certain points in that script…in every argument that occurs in the movie, basically it’s an argument with the protagonist where he is gung-ho, and pro-war and there’s some argument about that, but he wins every one of those arguments. No one has a comeback to him saying, ‘if we don’t fight these savages here in Iraq, they will be — we will have to fight them in San Diego in New York.’ Now, that is an utterly preposterous statement to make but I get it and I get why a soldier would make it, I get why a solider would think it. It’s the filmmaker’s decision to end that dialogue on that line with him winning that argument, and that is both a dramatic choice and inevitably, a political choice, and I get that Clint thinks he made an anti-war movie, the 20-year-old college student that I was watching it with thought it was completely anti-war movie, just totally, from start to finish. I get that. Movies and artists often have effects that are unintended, and so what we’re discussing here, I think all falls within the legitimate purview of movie criticism, without even getting political about it.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett