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Fury (2014)


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Fury is a WWII drama that will be written and directed by David Ayer. (End of Watch; threads here and here). Brad Pitt is in negotiations to star, according to Deadline.
 

The action takes place in 1945 as the Nazi regime collapses and the five-man crew of an American tank called Fury battles a desperate German army.
....
Ayer said his goal is to “bring a fresh execution to the genre. What these men went through is worthy of a complex, honest portrayal. This will have incredible, visceral action and complex rich characters. I plan to bring tank combat to life in a way that lands with a modern audience.”
Fury is not your father’s WWII movie, it digs deep into the complexities of battlefield heroism,” Block said when he bought the script.

 

It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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"There is no movie about World War Two the likes of which we haven't seen before.'

 

At least not since INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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  • 2 months later...

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I liked it. 

 

Those aren’t necessarily bad films, but it is rare to see a war film embrace and embody ambiguity and doubt. Norman’s ideals are a threat to the company’s safety, and they are treated as such. (“You are no goddam good to me unless you can kill Krauts.”) But Collier also recognizes that war has dehumanized his comrades and is—despite his best efforts—dehumanizing him. (“We’re not here for right and wrong; we’re here to kill Krauts.”)

 

The imp of the perverse made me want to write "and he's all out of bubble gum" after the last sentence.

Edited by kenmorefield
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That's a fine review, Ken. I liked the movie as well, but found the apartment scene -- which you didn't care for -- the standout sequence of the film.

 

Also, you mention that the men "rape" women, and I'm trying to remember when that was discussed or shown in the film. There's no rape in the apartment - or did you read that scene differently? One of the soldiers does mention to Norman other women they've encountered in the towns and villages they've gone through, but I don't remember the implication or outright acknowledgement of nonconsensual sex. It's possible I missed something glaringly obvious, of course.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I didn't see clear-cut rape, either, though in one very brief clip, there's some ambiguity as to consensuality. 

 

Like Christian, I also liked the scene with the two civilian women quite a bit; though to split the difference, like Ken, the end of this sequence was disappointingly predictable.

 

In "Bible" Swan (LeBeouf's character), I think we have perhaps the best portrayal of a Christian character so far at the movies this year.

 

Anywho, here's my review:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tinseltalk/2014/10/fury-dir-david-ayer-usauk-2014/

Edited by Andrew

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Yeah, I don't see any rape in this film either. There's one scene with a woman going into a tank, escorted by one of the soldiers and briefly groped by one of the others, but there's no hint of coercion there. (It's even suggested later on that she's a prostitute, when the soldiers invite Norman to come downstairs and join them.)

 

What bothers *me* is the scene where Brad Pitt coerces Logan Lerman into shooting a POW in the back (in the back!). No one -- not a single character -- raises any objections over this (except for Lerman's character, of course, but even *he* never mentions the Geneva Conventions or anything like that). I'm not certain at this point the degree to which the film is simply "honestly" showing what even American soldiers were like back then, and the degree to which the film accepts/excuses this behaviour.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I agree, Peter, that scene is definitely troubling.  From my years of working with combat veterans, I'm willing to bet that plenty of such conduct occurred in WW2, though U.S.-committed atrocities didn't gain notoriety until the Vietnam era.  Bloodlust and taking revenge are universal desires in the heat and aftermath of combat, much as we don't care to acknowledge it, especially about 'the greatest generation.'

 

From a narrative standpoint, I see that scene as an important milepost in Pvt Ellison's transformation, from battle-naive and unwilling to fire his weapon, into someone who becomes quite willing to kill Nazis, and lots of them.

To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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From LaBeouf's Interview magazine Q&A:

 

I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man, and not in a fucking bullshit way—in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can't identify unless you're really going through it. It's a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control. And while there's beauty to that, acting is all about control. So that was a wild thing to navigate. I had good people around me who helped me. Brad [Pitt] was really instrumental in guiding my head through this. Brad comes from a hyper-religious, very deeply Christian, Bible Belt life, and he rejected it and moved toward an unnamed spirituality. He looked at religion like the people's opium, almost like a Marxist view on religion. Whereas [Fury writer-director] David [Ayers] is a full subscriber to Christianity. But these two diametrically opposed positions both lead to the same spot, and I really looked up to both men.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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An interview with David Ayer about his theology and the film's themes, via Relevant:

 

People are drawn to WWII because it was a contest of good and evil. It’s very black and white. This enemy—with no concept of human rights—threw the rule book out on fighting, and our soldiers had to face that. It was a different world back then. It was a tougher generation. Our men who fought did a lot of things that are pretty edgy, pretty tough. All of the things in the movie are things that happened.

The question then becomes, how do you maintain your humanity—your moral center—as a soldier when you do have permission to cross the line sometimes? How do you not cross that line and maintain who you are? I can’t answer those questions, because I think the answer is in your own heart. And that’s something that fascinates me. How do you not lose yourself? How do you not lose your morality? How do you not lose your faith? You can only answer those questions yourself.

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Peter T Chattaway said"  What bothers *me* is the scene where Brad Pitt coerces Logan Lerman into shooting a POW in the back (in the back!). No one -- not a single character -- raises any objections over this (except for Lerman's character, of course, but even *he* never mentions the Geneva Conventions or anything like that). I'm not certain at this point the degree to which the film is simply "honestly" showing what even American soldiers were like back then, and the degree to which the film accepts/excuses this behaviour."

 

Yeah.  That bothered me as well.  What I absolutely hated was the fact that those other soldiers were standing around laughing.  Does the film accept/excuse this?  I don't think so, what with the shot of Pitt's character afterwards in a grief like pose and the gun.  But those shots were too brief for me to say for sure.

 

This all would of course fit in with what the director is saying about "losing ones morality", but I would also expect that it is standing in intentional contrast to the later scene underneath the tank.  This contrast leaves us with a little something to think about in this regard. EDIT:  Although I do agree with Andrew that this later scene was jarringly improbable.

 

-

 

I thought this was a very good movie, and in it some scenes and shots that were excellent, but I gotta say, there were places where it really grieved me.  Of course that part of why it was a good film, because that's what they intended.

 

 

-

 

 

On a note related to the question of whether or not that last shot was connected to the idea of doing God's will.  I recently got into a discussion with some people who defended the crusades because they were agains the "evil Islam Caliphate."  My question was.  What would have happened if the Catholic Church had sent missionaries to the places of Islam where they could go, and this at even a portion of the numbers of the crusaders, to feed, clothe and heal people.  Might they not have progressively and eventually won people over and this continuing to spread throughout the Islam world, and thus we possibly wouldn't have many of the problems that we have today, what with the crusades still in the "Islamic memory" and thus being an aspect of extreme Islam's aggression.

 

Of course, I don't know the answer to this.  But I think these are good questions to ask, what with Jesus saying things like "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword", and to pray for our enemies, turn the other cheek, etc.

 

Not that I'm a complete pacifist, I do believe that sometimes going to war only option, the best examples being the World Wars.  But you know what.  I might be wrong on that.  There might always be a better way.

 

I suspect the film isn't asking these question though, but rather giving us what it believes to be the answer.  This being that a history of violence and war has served to protect our non-violent and non-warlike ideals, connected to a bit of dialogue from Pitt's character.

Edited by Attica
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I agree, Peter, that scene is definitely troubling.  From my years of working with combat veterans, I'm willing to bet that plenty of such conduct occurred in WW2, though U.S.-committed atrocities didn't gain notoriety until the Vietnam era.  Bloodlust and taking revenge are universal desires in the heat and aftermath of combat, much as we don't care to acknowledge it, especially about 'the greatest generation.'

 

From a narrative standpoint, I see that scene as an important milepost in Pvt Ellison's transformation, from battle-naive and unwilling to fire his weapon, into someone who becomes quite willing to kill Nazis, and lots of them.

 

 

What's equally troubling is a scene that follows, and the mixed message that Norman receives.This is when the tankers fire the phosphorescent round into a building, and Norman is criticized for killing the German soldiers who emerge from the building with glowing/burning shrapnel emanating from their wounds.  It may or may not have been a mercy killing on Norman's part, but that's not really examined.  The point is Norman does the one thing he's been asked to do - "kill Krauts" - and his companion's reaction in this case is to tell him it would have been "better to let them burn, than waste the bullets."  This again makes one wonder how much humanity had slipped away from the battle weary tank crew.  Of course, this was a time when a soldier's tour of duty was for the duration of the conflict plus six months, rather than the set rotations that would follow in later wars.

Edited by John Drew

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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  Does the film accept/excuse this? 

 

 

Well...do keep in mind that by this point one of them has already died, horribly, as a direct result of Norman's refusal to kill. So while I wouldn't say the film countenances this reaction, I would say it understands it. Which is one of the things I like about the film...it seeks to understand first whereas so often we rush quickly to the judgment phase.

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  Does the film accept/excuse this? 

 

 

Well...do keep in mind that by this point one of them has already died, horribly, as a direct result of Norman's refusal to kill. So while I wouldn't say the film countenances this reaction, I would say it understands it. Which is one of the things I like about the film...it seeks to understand first whereas so often we rush quickly to the judgment phase.

 

 

Yeah.  I think it understands it.

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My MFA classmate Laura Ortberg Turner:

 

Remember when we were all so surprised that Shia LaBeouf had converted to Christianity while filming Fury? The news stormed through the Internet on Friday: Shia LaBeouf? The guy who grabbed Alan Cumming’s ass on Broadway and wore a paper bag over his head? The kid from Even Stevens and Transformers? And he became a Christian by talking with Brad Pitt and Fury director David Ayer? We ate it up. It’s a great story.

Except, I’m pretty sure, it’s not true. Not in the way we all thought it was, anyhow. And the thing that made me realize I had been wrong? Seeing Fury.

In Fury, LaBeouf is Technician Fifth Grade Boyd “Bible” Swan, a devout Christian who can quote chapter and verse from the book of Isaiah with the same ease he can load the tank gun. Perhaps LaBeouf was so moved by this experience that he sincerely bought into a new set of beliefs. But the part that I think so many of us missed last week-the part that became clear as a bell to me after seeing the movie-was that LaBeouf was talking about method acting.

We know that LaBeouf is a proponent of method acting because he has done a number of disturbing things in order to remain “in character” while filming or auditioning for a role. He sent a picture of his penis, for example, to the production team of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. While filming Fury, both Pitt and Ayer expressed concern over LaBeouf’s decision to pull his own tooth and spend weeks without showering in order to better empathize with his character.

The most revealing affirmation of this theory comes from the film’s director himself. In an interview with Esquire, David Ayer said of Shia’s public antics “He’s manipulating people. It’s like performance art. It’s very conscious on his part.”

 

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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My MFA classmate Laura Ortberg Turner:

 

Remember when we were all so surprised that Shia LaBeouf had converted to Christianity while filming Fury? The news stormed through the Internet on Friday: Shia LaBeouf? The guy who grabbed Alan Cumming’s ass on Broadway and wore a paper bag over his head? The kid from Even Stevens and Transformers? And he became a Christian by talking with Brad Pitt and Fury director David Ayer? We ate it up. It’s a great story.

Except, I’m pretty sure, it’s not true. Not in the way we all thought it was, anyhow. And the thing that made me realize I had been wrong? Seeing Fury.

In Fury, LaBeouf is Technician Fifth Grade Boyd “Bible” Swan, a devout Christian who can quote chapter and verse from the book of Isaiah with the same ease he can load the tank gun. Perhaps LaBeouf was so moved by this experience that he sincerely bought into a new set of beliefs. But the part that I think so many of us missed last week-the part that became clear as a bell to me after seeing the movie-was that LaBeouf was talking about method acting.

We know that LaBeouf is a proponent of method acting because he has done a number of disturbing things in order to remain “in character” while filming or auditioning for a role. He sent a picture of his penis, for example, to the production team of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. While filming Fury, both Pitt and Ayer expressed concern over LaBeouf’s decision to pull his own tooth and spend weeks without showering in order to better empathize with his character.

The most revealing affirmation of this theory comes from the film’s director himself. In an interview with Esquire, David Ayer said of Shia’s public antics “He’s manipulating people. It’s like performance art. It’s very conscious on his part.”

 

 

 

I took this for granted. 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I did, too. It was an interesting anecdote, but one's view of the film need not be influenced by one actor's behind-the-scenes story, or PR stunt.

 

That said, the most interesting part of the story was Shia's testifying to the director's faith, which I'd heard about before and take to be genuine.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Wow, Laura Ortberg Turner didn't even need to write that long explanation. Her article concludes with this full quote from Shia:

 

“It was hard to let go of control when I was acting and surrender to the principles of method acting, which include embracing the whole persona of your character. That was wild! But now that it’s over, I am not playing a role any longer and do not believe it.

 

I saw lots of articles about this last week, but not one of them included the section in bold. It pretty much deflates all of the other quotes that people were getting excited about.

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Brian Godawa: "War and Evil Through the Eyes of Manly Christianity":

 

So, when Norman is forced to kill his first SS captive, he balks and says it isn’t right. Wardaddy explains that it isn’t about right and wrong, it’s about survival against soldiers who will kill you if you do not kill them first. This is not a brutish denial of morality, but rather a simplified way of explaining the hard reality that when evil people seek to kill you, if good men do not kill them first, then evil will prevail. Sound at all familiar with the terror of today?

 

See, this is the thing. I can't accept the idea that every single German soldier was "evil". Not when their government was conscripting them and forcing them to participate in defending their homeland.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Brian Godawa: "War and Evil Through the Eyes of Manly Christianity":

 

So, when Norman is forced to kill his first SS captive, he balks and says it isn’t right. Wardaddy explains that it isn’t about right and wrong, it’s about survival against soldiers who will kill you if you do not kill them first. This is not a brutish denial of morality, but rather a simplified way of explaining the hard reality that when evil people seek to kill you, if good men do not kill them first, then evil will prevail. Sound at all familiar with the terror of today?

 

See, this is the thing. I can't accept the idea that every single German soldier was "evil". Not when their government was conscripting them and forcing them to participate in defending their homeland.

 

 

Sure.  It seems that many of them were brainwashed and simply didn't know of some of the horrors (such as the death camps) that were happening.  I'm also not convinced that the "if good men do not kill them first, then evil will prevail" mantra is either right or "manly."  

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