American Sniper, the biggest blockbuster of the Oscar season, does not glorify war, director Clint Eastwood says.
The biopic tells the story of Chris Kyle, the sniper with the most kills in American military history. Some criticized the film for highlighting a soldier who has killed thousands, while others embraced it as a heroic portrayal of military service.
But Eastwood says the film is definitively anti-war.
“I think it’s nice for veterans, because it shows what they go through, and that life—and the wives and families of veterans. It has a great indication of the stresses they are under,” Eastwood told The Hollywood Reporter. “And I think that all adds up to kind of an anti-war [message].”
He added that he himself is anti-war, despite his long resume of war films.
American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall gave a similar assessment of the film to TIME back in January. He said the film was meant to show the physical and emotional toll war takes on a soldier. If it had any political agenda, it was that the American government needs to take better care of veterans.
“People see the movie poster, and it’s got a guy and the American flag, and they know Clint Eastwood—the Dirty Harry guy and the Republican convention guy—directed it. So they think it’s some jingoistic thing. I would challenge that in a big way,” Hall said. “The movie isn’t about whether we should have been in Iraq or not. It’s about how war is human. I hope every time a politician decides to send us to war, maybe they saw this movie and know the cost of it.”