Posts Tagged ‘astonishing’

Fury, review: ‘astonishing’

October 11th, 2014

It’s April 1945, in the heart of Nazi Germany, and only when the figure is almost upon us do we realise he’s wearing the stiff field tunic and peaked cap, emblazoned with an eagle badge, of a German SS officer. Then, suddenly, from behind the wreckage of a vehicle, something pounces – another man, quick and wiry, who knocks the officer from his mount, pins him to the ground, and sinks a knife into his eye socket. We see the attacker’s face. It’s Brad Pitt. This is our introduction to the good guy.

As in Sam Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron (1977) and Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One (1980), any Hollywood gloss has been scoured away: the plot is raw, episodic and wholly unsentimental; a gruelling onward rumble from one brush with death to the next.

“We don’t murder, we kill,” says Lee Marvin’s hard-bitten sergeant in Fuller’s film; and it’s a distinction Pitt’s character all but reiterates here.

“I started this war killing Germans in Africa, then I killed Germans in France, and now I’m killing Germans in Germany,” he tells Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), Fury’s driver and the team’s newest, youngest recruit. Ayer is interested in the way these men cope with killing, and plunges them into the kind of war that doesn’t get talked about during peacetime. There is no Private Ryan-like search-and-rescue mandate. It’s not clear that anyone here is worth saving.

Pitt’s performance has more in common with his stern, authoritarian father-figure in The Tree of Life than Inglourious Basterds’ gregarious Lt Aldo Raine: as well as Ellison, he has three more filthy mouthed young men (Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal) to keep in line, and the group dynamic is more familial than friendlike.

After an astonishing set-piece battle, gripping in its sheer orderliness – three Shermans against Panzers and machine guns hunkered down in a thicket, with Pitt calmly barking orders into the radio – Wardaddy forces Ellison to shoot a captured SS officer in the back, pressing the pistol into his hands, wrenching the trigger back under his fingers, twisting his head so he sees the man’s body drop to the dirt.

“Do your job,” Wardaddy roars at him. And that’s how the men justify their actions to each other: “best job I ever had,” they tell each other, half-laughing, half-commiserating, after every skirmish and ambush.

In the down-time between battles, Ayer lets the quieter moments run. In an unbearably tense sequence, Wardaddy and Ellison break into a house in a bombed-out village after spotting a young woman at the window, and there is an unspoken understanding between the four that meat, drink and beds will be shared in the search for mutual comfort.

There’s no glory in this moment, but it feels strange enough to be truthful – another encounter those back home could never hope to understand. Ayer’s film, with its fearsome, steam-hammer power, brings us as close to that understanding as cinema can.

Fury is released on October 22, and closes the BFI London Film Festival on October 19


World War Two

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15 Astonishing World War 2 Photos That Bomb Your Senses

April 11th, 2009



As the saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words” – I think I’d have to disagree. I think it tells you more than that. Maybe I am too much of a WW2 fanatic, but every time I look at those images, my mind starts to analyze every tiny detail in the picture.
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Enjoy the pictures! They come with the official NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) descriptions. There are 15 in total. (Click pictures to zoom in.)
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#1 – Over the Pyramids, Egypt

An Air Transport Command plane flies over the pyramids in Egypt.Loaded with urgent war supplies and materials, this plane is one of a fleet flying shipments from the U.S. across the Atlantic and the continent of Africa to strategic battle zones. 1943. Exact Date Shot Unknown.  (Army)
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#2 Arriving in France on D-Day

Landing on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine gun fire are these American soldiers, shown just as they left the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat, June 6, 1944. CPhoM. Robert F. Sargent. (Coast Guard). The effect between clouds and dunes is extremely nice.
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#3 Shell After Shell

American howitzers shell German forces retreating near Carentan, France. July 11, 1944. Franklin. (Army)
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#4 Paratroopers Over Holland

Parachutes open overhead as waves of paratroops land in Holland during operations by the 1st Allied Airborne Army. September 1944. Exact Date Shot Unknown (Army)
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#5 Noisy Mortar

“Getting across the Rhine wasn’t all there was to it. There was the little matter of establishing a beachhead. We threw our mortars at them and everything else we had untill they finally gave away.” 1945. Army. Exact Date Shot Unknown (OWI)
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#6 Stay Low!

“I drew an assault boat to cross in – just my luck. We all tried to crawl under each other because the lead was flying around like hail.” Crossing the Rhine under enemy fire at St. Goar, March 1945. Army. Exact Date Shot Unknown (OWI)
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#7 Air Bombing

“The first big raid by the 8th Air Force was on a Focke Wulf plant at Marienburg. Coming back, the Germans were up in full force and we lost at least 80 ships – 800 men, many of them pals.” 1943. Army Air Forces. Exact Date Shot Unknown (OWI)
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#8 Running Into Uncertainty

Soldiers of the 55th Armored Infantry Battalion and tank of the 22nd Tank Battalion, move through smoke filled street. Wernberg, Germany. April 22, 1945. Pvt. Joseph Scrippens.  (Army)
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#9 Spotting

Observer who spotted a machine gun nest finds its location on a map so they can send the information to artillery or mortars to wipe out the position.  Iwo Jima, February 1945.  Dreyfuss. Exact Date Shot Unknown (Marine Corps)
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#10 Raising the Flag

Flag raising on Iwo Jima. February 23, 1945. Joe Rosenthal, Associated Press. (Navy) From the crest of Mount Suribachi, the Stars and Stripes wave in triumph over Iwo Jima after U.S. Marines had fought their way inch by inch up its steep lava-encrusted slopes.  Ca.  February 1945.
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#11 Rockets

Corsair fighter looses its load of rocket projectiles on a run against a Jap stronghold on Okinawa. In the lower background is the smoke of battle as Marine units move in to follow up with a Sunday punch. Ca. June 1945. Lt. David D. Duncan. Exact Date Shot Unknown (Marine Corps)
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#12 Dashing For His Life

A Marine dashes through Japanese machine gun fire while crossing a draw, called Death Valley by the men fighting there. Marines sustained more than 125 casualties in eight hours crossing this valley. Okinawa, May 10, 1945. Pvt. Bob Bailey.  (Marine Corps)
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#13 Anti-aircraft Fire

Japanese night raiders are greeted with a lacework of anti-aircraft fire by the Marine defenders of Yontan airfield, on Okinawa.  In the foreground are Marine Corsair fighter planes of the “Hell’s Belles’ squadron. 1945. T.Sgt. Chorlest. Exact Date Shot Unknown (Marine Corps)
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#14 Air Raid

USS ESSEX based TBMs and SB2Cs dropping bombs on Hokadate, Japan. July 1945. Exact Date Shot Unknown (Navy)
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#15 Hundreds of Shells

Task Force 58 raid on Japan. 40mm guns firing aboard USS HORNET on 16 February 1945, as the carrier’s planes were raiding Tokyo. Note expended shells and ready-service ammunition at right. February 1945. Lt. Comdr. Charles Kerlee. (Navy) – Note the shells on ground.

Thank you for viewing. More photos at WW2 in Color.

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