Fury and the Horrors of War

Posted: November 6, 2014 by Blaine Grimes in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

MV5BMjA4MDU0NTUyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQxMzY4MjE@._V1__SX1394_SY676_Fury opens with a long shot of a soldier on horseback slowly riding toward the camera, amid a foggy and desolate landscape. After holding this shot for an uncomfortable amount of time, the rider mercifully changes directions, veering off to the left and thus prompting the camera to track along with him. This evolving shot slowly reveals a battlefield strewn with destroyed tanks. We watch—still in a long shot— as the unidentifiable solider rides through the rubble, surveying the damage. A man quickly emerges from a nearby tank, tackles the soldier off his horse, and begins to assault him. Complementing this sudden appearance is the accompanying quick cut to a closeup of this hand-to-hand combat. The two men struggle, but the attacker deals a fatal blow when he stabs his victim in the head. Welcome to Fury.

The film, a WWII action/drama set in 1945, follows an American tank crew making a final push for victory in Germany. Sent on a mission to rescue American soldiers behind enemy lines, they encounter trouble as they are forced to face the more advanced German tanks. Leading the war-weary Fury crew is the attacker from the aforementioned opening scene, the battle-hardened Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt). Manning the Fury’s cannon is Boyd “Bible” Swan (Shia LaBeouf), who is respected by everyone and (as his nickname suggests) is characterized by his devout Christian faith. Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is the rookie transferred from a non-combat position who stands in contrast to the experienced duo of Gordo Garcia (Michael Pena) and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal). With a plot that reads like a generic sort of war film that we’ve seen a million times, the real magic of Fury is that it is, in reality, a thoughtful and artful addition to the genre.

In many ways, the film’s opening scene, in its dramatic use of the closeup, is a microcosm of the film as whole. Fury is a brutal, personal, and intimate meditation on war—albeit in a completely different sense than, say, Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line. Director David Ayer puts the audience inside the tank named Fury, which then becomes the perfect vehicle for exploring the themes of the horrors of war, the nature of man, and the meaning of valor. Most of the shots in this film are tight closeups that encourage the viewer to identify and sympathize with the protagonists. The sound, which often emanates from a character’s perspective, also helps solidify this kind of intimate viewing experience. In other words, Fury is character-driven in a way that challenges the conventional function of violence in the war movie. While there is certainly an element of the standard violence for spectacle’s sake here, Ayers seems unusually determined to make the audience see the ugliness of war and death.

A testimony to Ayer’s skill as a filmmaker and writer, Fury avoids the two most common pitfalls of war films, the first of which is a tendency to present a cardboard cutout depiction of American soldiers as flawless supermen, while the second—and opposite—is to thinly disguise an anti-American political diatribe as a feature film. It makes for a grueling 2 hours and 15 minutes, and—as much as any film in recent memory—it makes you long for a day when there will be only peace and no war.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] Fury and the Horrors of War: “A testimony to Ayer’s skill as a filmmaker and writer, Fury avoids the two most common pitfalls of war films, the first of which is a tendency to present a cardboard cutout depiction of American soldiers as flawless supermen, while the second—and opposite—is to thinly disguise an anti-American political diatribe as a feature film.” […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s