Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Furious Reaction

Amy Nicholson, in her review of the WWII film Fury, writes this (minor spoilers):

In trying to say that death is both noble and pointless, Fury makes the fatal mistake of so many war movies: It divides up the battlefield so that our deaths are lofty and the enemies' deaths mean nothing.

1)  War films, and indeed any action films, can choose to have antagonists such that you don't mind that much when they die.  Or not. It's an artistic choice.  It's not a mistake, much less a fatal one, that we care more about the main characters than others.

2)  This is World War II.  Pardon me for not being post-modern enough to think the death of a Nazi is as bad as the death of an American.  Yes, I know, they loved their families, they listened to music, they had dogs, etc.  So what?

3)  It's weird that Nicholson would attack this film for this "flaw" since it goes out of its way to deal with the question.  There's a lot of stuff about how you have to harden your heart and kill mercilessly or people on your side will die.  Then there are scenes of sympathy for the situation the Germans are in, forced by leaders to fight even when they know it's over.  The movie even makes us feel bad about how some of the Germans die.  So what did Nicholson want?  For writer-director David Ayer to give us thirty minutes of background scenes showing the life stories of the German soldiers who march in during the final act so we'll care as much about them as we do about the characters we've been following the whole way through?

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