History-making music group for UMM - morris mn

History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Movie "Fury" (2014) showers us with misery of war

I checked out the movie "Fury" from our Morris Public Library, not knowing what kind of WWII movie it would be. Are we ghouls for watching WWII movies? We must remind ourselves that the potential for immense conflict remains in our nature. I suppose we should thank God for the U.S. emerging as the major world power preventing the worst of conflicts.
It has been said "the first casualty of war is the truth." Our government tried making Jessica Lynch into a hero in connection with Iraq. It isn't so easily done anymore. The proliferation of media tends to dull propaganda. Movies like "Fury" don't have the effect they used to, either. These aren't cowboy and Indian movies. They aren't one-dimensional.
Hollywood decided with "Saving Private Ryan" that more of the sheer misery of war had to come through. "Fury" is set in the final stages of WWII: the push toward Berlin. No uglier chapter in human history could possibly be written.
I hate to simply disparage the movie, but at its end I had to ask: what was the point? Even as a kid, when watching more sanitized WWII movies, it was easy to realize the gruesome nature of war. We always knew there was more blood than what we saw on the screen (which may have been none). That's fine. The movies of my youth actually served a purpose: They instructed us about actual events in the war. We learned there was a place called "Remagen" where a key bridge attracted fierce combat. Some liberty was taken with the facts to achieve maximum dramatic effect. No matter: Remagen was significant. We can read more in the books (or today on Wikipedia).
"Fury" does not appear to be based on any known event in WWII. Any good WWII movie ought to be based on - or as Hollywood says today, "inspired by" - known events and facts. That ought to at least be the springboard.
Where is the noble message of "Fury?" It was constructed like a remake of "300." We root for the good guy underdogs, led by Brad Pitt as Sgt. Dan Collier. I began to feel the movie lacked plausibility. Hollywood does this so often: making the bad guys look inept. The German soldiers might just as well have been Imperial stormtroopers from "Star Wars." Or, the swarming Persian forces of "300."
I don't think the Germans were stupid at all. Eventually forces from around the globe swarmed upon them. Oliver Stone suggests it was mainly the Red Army from the east that overcame Germany. When the Cold War set in so soon after the hot war of WWII, it was not acceptable to bestow so much credit on those "Russkies."
The Germans were evil but not stupid. We sure wanted their scientists after the end of the war.
Was it necessary for the Pitt character to say this in the movie: "We're not here for right and wrong. We're here to kill."
As if we needed another movie to simply tell us "war is hell," here is "Fury," this 2014 American-British war film written and directed by David Ayer. We learn that Ayer sought a greater degree of realism than in other WWII dramas. So we see eye-bludgeoning. We learn it's OK to kill kids.
Our heroic crew befriends two women in a small German town. The women are goners of course. First there is implied sex between the soldier named Norman and the younger (and more attractive) of the two women (who are cousins). It's the more attractive of the two, of course, who is visible on top of the rubble after a German bombardment. Right away I thought: how could this lass end up at the very top of the rubble, so conspicuous and an object for tears as we ponder the barbarity of war? The less attractive woman, more forgettable I guess, is buried under the rubble. But war goes on.
Our crew boards their tank called "Fury." There is more killing business to be done. "Fury" is one of four tanks assigned to hold a crossroads in order to protect a clear path to supply trains. They are intercepted by a German tank that has all the bells and whistles. One of the U.S. tanks quickly bites the dust. The three others stay determined. Only Fury is standing and operable at the end of the engagement. Finally Fury maneuvers behind the German Tiger tank. The armor is weakest at the rear. Fury finishes off the German machine. On it proceeds to the crossroads. A land mine explodes. The tank is rendered no-go. The radio is cut off.
The odds don't look good for our heroes, but remember what a small group could do in the movie "300." This is the scenario that quickly sets in. Norman heads to a nearby hill and sees a whole bunch of Germans coming. It's a reinforced company of 300 Waffen-SS "panzergrenadiers." They're coming our way! Oh my. Some in the crew wish to flee. The Pitt character, true to John Wayne, decides to stay put. Just imagine Wayne's bravado coming forth.
Deploy an ambush? You've got to be kidding. Hollywood is in charge of events, though. History is written by the winners. Those "Imperial stormtroopers" are just an inconvenience.
The Fury tank is disguised so it looks too damaged to be of any good. John Wayne - OK it's Pitt - suggests the crew share some whiskey. Here come the Germans and they become cannon fodder. The Persians - excuse me, the Germans - die like flies. We see a Fury crew member sacrifice himself by using his body vs. a grenade. Norman, who appears misplaced because his training was as a typist, survives of course. A dying Sgt. Collier (Pitt) tells Norman to escape through the bottom emergency door.
The Germans' superior numbers do eventually prevail, but at great cost to them. The Americans have essentially won this engagement. Norman slides through the hatch and into a crater made by the landmine explosion. SS soldiers drop grenades in the tank, finishing off Collier.
I become puzzled as I see a young Waffen SS trooper point a flashlight and discover Norman. Or did he? As I watched the movie, I wasn't sure. Reading later, I learn this German lad was exercising mercy. But why? The tank crew had mercilessly dispatched so many of the German soldier's brethren. I'm sure they all felt camaraderie just like the Americans, albeit in a dubious cause. Norman's life is spared.
Norman crawls back into the tank the next morning. He hears people approaching. Who? Of course, this is a happy ending with Americans arriving on the scene. I'm puzzled once again as Norman is informed that he's a hero. Why such a quick conclusion? How on earth could this young man have survived such an all-out conflict?
I would have to wonder: Maybe this young man had fled for cover, returning when the place was deserted. No such suspicion emerges. "Hero" Norman is transported to safety. He sees the carnage of hundreds of dead German SS troops.
And, the surviving German troops would have simply departed, overlooking the one remaining U.S. boy? According to the movie's script, yes, apparently because of the German with the flashlight feeling mercy. It seems implausible to me.
Movie watchers have been dragged through two and a half hours of depressing gore, complemented by a total environment of mud. Mud, mud, mud. Get the message?
"The Bridge at Remagen" starring George Segal at least taught us about the Remagen bridge engagement. I'm not sure how "Fury" has really enlightened us. It's another vehicle for Pitt's acting talent, to be sure. I prefer him in "Moneyball," saying "because I'm amazing." The cause there was to obtain a top-notch relief pitcher. It's a much more palatable scenario.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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