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5 Feb, 2015

How a culture remembers its crimes is important: A review of ‘American Sniper’

The greatest crime of the twenty-first century so far has come to the big screen, and it’s a hit. American Sniper scored “the top opening of all time for a non-tentpole”, a record that previously belonged to The Passion of the Christ. A white man beset by hostile Semites: box office gold. Mel Gibson’s Jesus picture was a piece of medieval incitement; American Sniper is more commercial product than propaganda film, hedging its bets in order not to alienate any potential audience. There’s a generic antiwar undercurrent, but no understanding of the myriad ways in which this specific act of aggression was so monstrous. The conflicting signals were probably part of a strategy to drum up business through controversy, but the movie deserves to be talked about: how a culture remembers its crimes is always of interest. We seem willing to regret the Iraq War, provided that we never have to face it; American Sniper abides by this profitable bargain.

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