[Quick Summary: The journey of US sniper Chris Kyle to Iraq and back home.]
I...I..I have no words for this script.
It's not your typical war story. (I was surprised. It's a character study).
It is emotionally costly. (I was unprepared).
It takes you to the front lines of responsibility. (I was floored).
I was interested to hear that both Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood worked on this project.
They gave the writer one overarching note: Clarity.*
I saw it everywhere, even in the small scene below.
Notice the clear intent to convey what the brotherhood feels like:
ex. "INT. HUMVEE #2 - TWO DAYS LATER
Chris looks to Marc Lee, eyes closed in prayer. When he opens them he sees Chris looking. The rig sways.
MARC LEE: I went to seminary school before I joined the Navy. Came close to being a preacher.
CHRIS: Why didn't you?
MARC LEE: I love to gamble, man. Love those dice.
Their laughter is liberating. It bonds them.
CHRIS: My kind of preacher.
MORE LAUGHTER. A PHONE RINGS. Chris digs out a SAT PHONE.
MARC LEE: It's like that now, huh?
CHRIS: You haven't heard? I'm The Legend. (laughs at self; into phone) Hey babe --
TAYA (O.S.) You were right, doctor says it's a boy.
CHRIS: It's a boy!
MARC LEE: Hell yeah. Congratu--
WHAAP! Windshield spiders."
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Even with complicated shooting scenes, I could always follow what was at stake.
That's good clear writing.
American Sniper (2014)
by Jason Hall
Based on the book by Christ Kyle with Scott McEwen & Jim DeFelice
*The writer further explains:"[C]larity of purpose, clarity of intention, clarity of emotion. What are
they saying? What's the feeling? What are you trying to get out? What
are you trying to say?"