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26 January 2015

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Patrick Bahzad

Never heard about the movie, but soviet snipers in WWII are known for "improving" sniping techniques and for high lethality in action.
In any case, I would rate them much higher than sniper having served in recent wars, as it's a different proposition to have 160 kills when you fight Iraqi insurgents, and having 225 when you fight the Wehrmacht.
Some people should eat a big slice of humble pie I'm afraid.

shepherd

Patrick Bahzad,

I wrote an interactive documentary as a companion to the movie that discussed some of what you're talking about. It won an award at Cannes. My belief, though I could never prove it, was that propagandists needed to pin the advances you speak of on a person, even though they were really a collective effort. Zaitzev was perfect, but the stories he tells, and particularly the one at the center of the movie, are probably fantasy. That said, I wasn't there, record-keeping is unreliable, and who knows.

LeaNder

"He is reputed to have shot and killed 150. "

Pat, I hadn't seen this, haven't even finished reading it. But the competitive element that Eastwood adds in this context, may well have be some type of "as far as he could" under circumstances.

LeaNder

"It is sort of like the thrill of porn only bloodier."

Nancy, I watched for a while with acute irritation the shift from explicit sex both in film and on stage to cruelty.

One theme had become much too common at one point in time. The herd follows.

This includes one of my favorite Shakespeare theatre goups incidentially. I wouldn't be able to base them precisely in the context of when I noticed the shift.

LeaNder

I remember vividly, Gavin, when I then friend of mine told me he didn't like my use of--whatever it was--maybe it was komisch used as not comic?

Occasionally I have problems with people trying to point out to me that the Yiddish use of the word "Mensch" is not really the same as Mensch/human is not the same as used in German.

Obviously we have to use it in other contexts too, but I am pretty sure without any energy to prove it, that it gained the prominence it still has in Yiddish due to the specific usage by Germans.

Medicine Man

I think you misunderstood what Col. Lang was asking. He was wondering why the public was mad *for* the film not mad *at* the film.

Tidewater

Tidewater replies to Shepherd,

I knew the late William Craig at the VCCA, across from Sweet Briar, back in the seventies. He, of course, wrote Enemy at the Gates/ The Battle for Stalingrad. I am a little surprised you didn't mention this book.

There is no doubt that Vassili Zaitsev was a very effective and successful Russian sniper. He volunteered to go into Stalingrad. He came to the attention of his commanders early on after he had killed some forty Germans in ten days. Craig gives the account --an "official" account by then-- of the duel between Zaitsev and a German major named "Koenigs." He doesn't make this the center of anything in the vast panorama of the battle. It is simply a fascinating incident. I know from conversation with Craig that he was actually quite interested in the famous Pioneers, an elite, highly professional German unit of combat engineers (Sappers) who fought their Russian counterparts in blasted out industrial spaces, concrete floor to concrete floor, with satchel charges and long fuses. The losers were the ones who didn't get out in time. I get the idea that Zaitsev's story was one Craig took from published records. Unlike a lot of his reporting, which emphasizes intense and hard won interviews. He discusses in the preface to his book what it was like to interview men who had been at Stalingrad. It could get emotional. Also, though he doesn't say this in his preface, there was a lot of drinking. Craig was a big tall guy and he could hold his liquor. He had some funny stories. He drank some of these national heroes under the table. This seemed to be a point of pride. Particularly if a Russian. One German officer at a white tie dinner in a baronial pile scared the hell out of his interpreter. The tone got cold and violent. Craig was squinting uneasily down a long table through the glow from enormous silver candelabra. Something had changed. What was it? Then he realized. The General was now wearing a monocle. Where had that come from, he wondered, even years later. I checked some of this out last night and I think I now know who the officer might have been.(General Carl Rodenburg?)

I never heard Craig give any opinion on Zaitsev. It ought to be noted that Craig's method took him to three continents to talk to people. He knew the right questions to ask. From the time he was fourteen or fifteen he had been studying the battle. He could draw the maps. I will bet his college theses at Columbia were about Stalingrad. I think the book, written in 1972, is a classic.

Anthony Beevor dismisses the Zaitsev duel with "Koenigs." In the research for his classic, Stalingrad, he found no record of "Koenigs."

It seems possible to me that Russian propagandists spotted Zaitsev and gave him the key role in their own incredibly successful primal, morality tale about the patriotic, socialist kid from Siberia up against the icy Teutonic Bavarian aristocrat who hunts humans. A little bit of that famous short story The Most Dangerous Game in it? In any event, good sniper Zaitsev became a national hero. And brought some joy back into the hearts of his countrymen.

The internet seems fascinated about "Koenigs." Did he exist, or did he not? I don't think we'll ever know. But Zaitsev was the real thing, regardless.

PS

For the record, Paddington was a delightful movie. Perfect for any child or anyone who enjoyed Paddington as a child.

The Twisted Genius

PS,

I remember when the animated Winnie the Pooh shorts were shown in movie theaters. I laughed so hard I embarrassed my mother. I still love them as much as the original books.

Patrick Bahzad

Sure thing, sounds totally plausible they made up a "hero" figure because they needed it. Same thing could be said about US war effort in ME (need i reming the infamous "jessica lynch" PR-stunt ?)
that's why i wrote about soviet snipers in general and i didn't mention any names.
verdict still stands: it's another kettle of fish sniping against the Wehrmacht than sniping against insurgents in Iraq

Tyler

Joe,

I think you're spot on about displaying a masculinity beyond the media approved duolism of manchild/metrosexual dandy.

LeaNder

Thanks Swampy, this is indeed the best review so far. Not least since it avoids the usual partisan misuse.

So there is only a young screenwriter, Spielberg may well have influenced part of the development of the script, and Clint Eastman replaced Steven Spielberg at one point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Hall_%28screenwriter%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Sniper_%28film%29#Production

strictly I am not fond of Breitbart, but this minus the polemics is interesting too. If true. Which I suppose it is.

LeaNder

" If you are laughing at holes in the plot, improbable events, stupid special effects then the movie failed."

Well at one point in my life I realized, that a rather big share of 'my camp' went to James Bond movies exactly for that reason: to laugh at the stereotypes.

Reminded me of Frank Zappa: I love monster movies, the worse they are, the better they are.

Concerning Desert Storm--I am not familiar with Whoopie Goldberg and US talk show circles--post 911 and the following events, earlier events like desert storm occasionally came to mind. Is there still someone in the US, that disrespects the troops for Desert Storm? Seriously? Apart from the fact that it never makes much sense to collectively disrespect soldiers for their involvement in any war. Obviously they have to follow orders.

LeaNder

" I had trouble with the protagonist shooting a child to kill, so other fellow soldiers will not be exposed to danger."

Maybe that's the point the partisans miss? Or you read some partisan reviews that guided your reception?

Someone above said: When I go to a movie, I know what to expect. In technical terms it's called: suspension of disbelieve.

But yes, there is a huge crowd of people that fail to see this difference. Some may have this vague idea in the back of their minds that they heard about movies being used as propaganda. They obviously never seriously studied it. But over here in Germany we also had this really curious story about a German medical soap that led to TV-audience-pilgrims trying to meet Dr. Brinkmann somewhere in the Black Forest.

But yes, a movie has to follow basic dictates. And Taibbi wiping it away as something irrelevant is deeply misguided. If you know the basics of screen writing or the theories for that matter, you start to look out for writers that surprise you e.g. in my favorite genre: suspense/thrillers. It cannot ever be reality, but there are basic laws guiding screenwriters. And some writers use the rules too transparently to keep you "suspended".

The more fascinating thing for me is that someone like Shakespeare didn't have to know our basic story-telling-rules, but is nevertheless amazingly good at keeping audience attention.

LeaNder

"as Kyle is accused of being. Hathcock said, "He enjoyed hunting and shooting but not killing."

Optimax, I think in this context there is no way around the larger editorial history.

http://www.harpercollins.com/9780062238863/american-sniper

What exactly is Kyle and what is McEwen and deFelice? Although deFelice does not surface in later editions.

In one of the Amazon edition under something like the introduction of the author there is this:
"We've reconstructed dialog from memory, which means it may not be word for word, but the essence of what was said is true."

Apparently he was reluctantly hired:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Kyle#Personal_life

And then there is this:
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_27147200/jesse-ventura-sues-american-sniper-publisher-now

Maybe he should have trusted his instincts, instead of following the desire of publishers to create a bestseller? With a little help by the NYT, apparently.

LeaNder

That's interesting Tyler, and as you know we aren't exactly friends.

Swampy

Here's another article on the populist appeal of AS:

http://www.vice.com/read/is-jane-fonda-right-about-american-sniper-373

it's light, but makes some good points:

"In the war zone, Kyle exacts his deadly craft like an obsessive, moody artist. Killing thrills him. When he returns home, though, he wrestles with the pain; the experience has numbed him in a way he doesn't entirely understand. When he visits the doctor with his wife, he finds that his blood pressure is alarmingly high. He doesn't think it's a big deal. In another scene, he almost attacks the family dog. "

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