Which movie scene made you ballistic?

"American Sniper": A Historical Fact Check

How historically accurate is the Hollywood film about Chris Kyle, "the deadliest sniper in US military history"?

Chris Kyle is considered the deadliest sniper in US military history with 160 confirmed kills. Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood has now filmed his life under the title "American Sniper". The film will be shown in cinemas from Thursday. "Presse" film critic Markus Keuschnigg has already discussed the film ("A cowboy against the" savages "in Iraq"). Here the film should now be checked for its historical veracity:

No. At the beginning of the film, Chris Kyle is lying on the roof of a house in Iraq. From this comes a woman with a little boy, to whom she hands a large grenade to kill US soldiers. Do you want Kyle to shoot? For the film, however, the moral dilemma was exaggerated. Because the matter is clear: The super bad woman wants to knowingly send the child to death, Kyle actually has no choice but to pull the trigger. Kyle describes this scene in his autobiography "American Sniper", but there is no mention of a child. "It was my duty to shoot. And I don't regret it. The woman was already dead. I just made sure that she didn't take any Marines with her," said Kyle, describing his first fatal shot with a sniper rifle in Iraq. "My shots saved Americans whose lives are clearly worth more than that confused woman's soul."

  • Leveled soldier or killing machine?

Clint Eastwood sensitively portrays Chris Kyle as a level-headed soldier just doing his job. He wants to do justice to the person behind the legend. The message is clear: Kyle killed to save American lives. "It's not the people you saved, the ones you remember. It's the people you couldn't save," Kyle writes in his autobiography. Eastwood tells what war does to soldiers and their families. Kyle does the same by letting his wife speak in his autobiography.

Kyle also reveals himself in his book to be someone who enjoys killing. "That'll be fine," he says happily before fighting: "We'll kill a lot of 'bad guys' - and I'll be right in the middle of it." In the film, Kyle calls Iraqis "savages", but in his book they are consistently savages or bad guys. He sees himself in the fight against "wild, despicable evil". The number of enemies he killed is not important, writes Kyle boastfully. "I just wish I had killed more". It didn't bother him either, to have killed so many people. "You do it so that the enemy does not kill you and your countrymen. You do it until there is no one left to kill." And Kyle admits, "I loved what I did - and I still do." If his family didn't need him, he would be back on the battlefields in Iraq in a heartbeat, writes Kyle.

  • Skulls on US uniforms?

Kyle sees himself as a warrior fighting for justice. It is no coincidence that Kyle's SEAL Team 3 (not to be confused with SEAL Team 6, which became world famous after the killing of Osama Bin Laden) is named after the cartoon character "Punisher", a self-proclaimed criminal hunter who practices vigilante justice. "We all thought what the Punisher was doing was cool: He judges culprits. He kills the bad guys. He makes the culprits fear him." So if you are wondering in the film why Kyle and his comrades sprayed skull symbols on tanks, helmets, uniforms and weapons: It is the symbol of the punisher.

Why the skull logo? Kyle explains it in his book:

"We wanted people to know, we're here and want to fuck with you. It was our version of psyops. You see us? We're the people kicking your ass. Fear us. Because we will kill you, motherfucker."

Eastwood doesn't paint that beautifully in his film. The US soldiers do not act like liberators who take care of the suffering of the civilian population. On the contrary, they seem like a terrifying occupying force. Even at public appearances after the war - like his "Time-10-Questions" interview - Kyle always wears a cap with a skull logo (his company Craft, which he founded after his SEAL time, also has a skull in its logo).

  • After terrorist attacks on the SEALS?

On August 7, 1998, two terrorist attacks on the US embassies were carried out on the African continent in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya). A total of 224 people die and over a thousand are injured. In the film "American Sniper", Chris Kyle, who has seen the TV images, volunteered for the Marines. That is simply wrong. After his rodeo career ended, Kyle decided to drop out of college and no longer work on a farm. The two attacks had nothing to do with it.

  • Did the cruel "Butcher" really exist?

The cruel al-Qaida torturer "The Butcher" only appears in the film. But it is based on the Shiite mass murderer Abu Deraa, who is held responsible for the murder of thousands of Sunnis.

  • Private calls during the firefight?

In the movie, Chris Kyle calls his wife on a satellite phone in the middle of a battle to let her know he's had enough of the war. It is unrealistic.

In fact, a building was attacked once in which Kyle was on the phone with his wife. He then dropped the phone without ending the call. On the other end of the line, Taya Kyle had to overhear the firefights and curses of the soldiers. Only then did the connection break off. Only after two or three days was Kyle able to talk to his completely distraught wife again, who until then did not know whether her husband was well. In a similar film scene, Taya reveals to her husband the gender of the child she is carrying in her womb before a gunfight breaks out, in the course of which the connection is also broken. However, this film detail was invented - probably for dramaturgical reasons.

  • Was Chris Kyle Really Shot In The United States?

Yes it's right. Chris Kyle was shot dead on a firing range in 2013 by post-traumatic stress veteran Eddie Ray Routh. The trial of the perpetrator recently came to an end in the USA, and Routh was sentenced to life imprisonment.

  • Did the sniper duel exist?

"American Sniper" is also a duel between two snipers, because Kyle is confronted in the film with an Iraqi opponent who is called "Mustafa" and is said to be a former Syrian Olympian. However, this duel serves exclusively dramaturgical effects and has not been historically proven. Because Kyle himself writes in his autobiography: "I never saw him, but other snipers later killed an Iraqi sniper we think was him."

The most famous Iraqi sniper was "Juba". He was a member of the "Islamic Army in Iraq" and boasted the killing of more than 500 Americans, many of whom were also documented on video. However, this number seems far too exaggerated and was probably used for purely propaganda purposes. "Juba" was just as feared by the Americans and their allies as Kyle was by the Iraqis. US Captain Brendan Hobbs considered it "a product of the US military": There were several individual snipers from which the myth "Juba" arose.

  • Deadliest sniper in history?

Probably in the wake of the film's release, a British sniper has spoken out who claims to be the deadliest sniper in the world. He is said to have shot 90 Taliban in a single day, as "focus.de" reported. That being said, there are at least two snipers who have killed more people than Chris Kyle:

The Soviet sniper is said to be in World War II Vasily Saizew killed more than 200 Germans in the Battle of Stalingrad between November 10 and December 17, 1942. How much of it was pure propaganda is still unclear today. Jean-Jacques Annaud created a cinematic monument to Saizew, played by Jude Law, in 2001 with "Duel - Enemy at the Gates". The duel with a German sniper shown in the film is also likely to be a myth.

The Finnish sniper Simo Häyhä was feared as the "White Death" by the soldiers of the Red Army in the winter war of 1939/1940. Häyhä is said to have killed more than 500 Soviet soldiers within 100 days - with open sights, without a telescopic sight. In any case, he is considered to be the sniper with the most confirmed kills in a war. In March 1940, he was hit in the face by a Soviet sniper. Seriously injured, he survived, but remained marked in the face for life.

Kyle himself referred to the US soldier Carlos Hathcockwho became famous and infamous as the "White Feather" in the Vietnam War, as the greatest sniper of all time. He achieved 93 confirmed "kills". Hathcock wore a white feather on his headgear ("It showed them a long nose (...). Snipers don't normally do that (...), but I wasn't normal") and was nicknamed by the North Vietnamese. Kyle said of Hathcock: "I have more kills, but that does not mean, I'm better than he is". "I'm just a monkey with a gun," he joked to Conan O'Brien. Because, unlike Hathcock, he used ballistic computers.

>>> Chris Kyle at Conan O'Brien

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