Clint Eastwood’s new film American Snipe has broken box-office records in its first week on release. It is quite an achievement for the octogenarian director, the more so, perhaps, given its ornithological theme. American Snipe tells the true story of a snipe with a record number of kills. The film follows the bird as it flies around, swooping down to catch and gobble up crane flies, horse flies, deer flies, beetles, dragonflies, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, mayflies, butterflies, caddis flies and moths. No explicit moral judgements are made, though at one point an ornithologist, observing the slaughter, remarks “They’re just insects”.
The film has provoked controversy in the United States, winning plaudits from right-wingers while those on the liberal left have condemned it for painting a picture of unalloyed avian savagery, instead of showing nature as twee and cuddly.
The role of the American snipe is played by an award-winning snipe with a particularly long slender pointy bill.