American Sniper was showing in Baghdad, Iraq, where Chris Kyle’s story takes place, and audiences love it so much that someone even screamed out, “Shoot him, he had an IED!” during one of the scenes. IED is an Improvised Explosive Device used by insurgents to kill American troops.
This may come as a surprise to many, as the conflict is clearly seen through the eyes of the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is officially credited with 162 kills — but some believe the number could be double that figure — all of which happened in Iraq.
American Sniper has been an unexpected hit in the United States, breaking box office records for January and making it the best-selling movie in history for that month. Many would have thought Iraqi audiences would not have been receptive to the movie.
As a testament of what a good movie — regardless of politics — can do for viewers, American Sniper wowed audiences in Baghdad, according to the Global Post. The upscale theater in Mansour Mall played the film for a week before management took it down in the wake of the controversy it stirred, but not before viewers like Gaith Mohammed had the opportunity to voice their opinion.
“Some people watching were just concentrating, but others were screaming ‘(expletive), shoot him! He has an IED, don’t wait for permission!’ I love watching war movies because especially now they give me the strength to face (the Islamic State).”
According to an employee of the Baghdad theater, American Sniper wasn’t discontinued because the lead character, Chris Kyle, was not remorseful about killing Iraqis from nearby rooftops at the height of U.S. operations in that country. The Post asked Mohammed if he thought the movie was racist, as some reviewers in America are suggesting.
“No, why? The sniper was killing terrorists, the only thing that bothered me was when he said he didn’t know anything about the Koran!”
A government official, also interviewed about American Sniper in Baghdad, disagrees wholeheartedly and questions Kyle’s motives in killing women and children. Even though the man, who only gave the name of Wael, didn’t enjoy what he sees as an anti-Muslim message, he confessed that he has seen the movie three times.
“The sniper, he has a chance to hit the child and his mother in their foot or anywhere without killing them, but he didn’t because he’s bloodthirsty like all the American troops.”
Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife, Taya, American Sniper is based on Kyle’s autobiography, which depicts his experiences as a lethal sharpshooter during four tours to Iraq. When the movie opened in Baghdad, the showings were sold out, and viewers had to buy tickets in advance. The film is nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture.
Omar Jalal, a university student, says he’s upset American Sniper is no longer being shown at the Mansur Mall theater. Even though he saw it once, he had hoped to bring his family with him for a second viewing, but has a pirated copy already and his friends have downloaded it illegally from the internet.
Jalal says he doesn’t think the movie is racist or anti-Arab, as has been suggested by mostly liberal stars and reviewers, according to NBC News. This Baghdad resident finds the American Sniper lead character appealing, even if he’s killing his own people, explaining Chris Kyle was just serving his country, which is a universal duty for all soldiers.
“He was a hero and he went through difficult training. Besides, it’s just a movie, and I like war movies. If they are true or not, whatever!”
Are you surprised at the reactions of Baghdad moviegoers who watched American Sniper?
[Image via Warner Bros.]