At the start of the week, the magazine Rufous City Review released their new issue. My poem "Waimea Canyon" was included in it, along with several other poems I enjoyed over the course of a couple snow days that kept me home from school. Visit the site. Download the PDF. It's free, and it's good for you.
|Wadjda and her tank.|
|Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) and his bicycle.|
In some ways the film is too metallic, too full of gears, too wrought in its own stagings of war to breathe. And maybe that's how war is. But the film decides early on that the only life worth saving here is Logan Lerman's Norman Ellison, who is a former typist by virtue of his middle class upbringing. Brad Pitt's Wardaddy sees the fading embers of his civilized self in the youth and the innocence of Ellison, just as the film later reveals how he sees elements of his wavering faith in Shia LaBeouf's Boyd 'Bible' Swan. The names in this film are what they promise to be, proclaiming rather than suggesting allegory. And, in accordance with his name, Wardaddy teaches boys how to be soldiers. His tank in a rather obvious metaphor is a metallic womb. And this will all play out with Ellison's violent rebirth. He will become a soldier, yes, but, more importantly, a living witness to the ultimate sacrifice.
Others will die for him to live, to type, or whatever it is the Ellisons do when not forced into the throes of violence. However, the men not named Ellison have been deemed too mutated for such ends to be possible any longer. For much of this film, forgiveness and redemption are nonexistent. And yet, Fury does not find its closure as easily as it could, and that is a good thing. In fact, this inability to end as it began is perhaps the only redeeming trait in what is otherwise a lesser redux of films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and Inglorious Basterds.
Instead of simply having Ellison survive, he survives because a youthful Nazi soldier shows him mercy. Ellison drops through the bottom of the tank and awaits his fate, but the other boy does not shoot. Prior to this scene, none of the German soldiers were depicted as anything other than "Nazi fuckers" worthy of being shot and nothing more. This scene accomplishes what the earlier scenes in the film failed to--despite some efforts to the contrary--which is to demonstrate in a convincing fashion how the gears of war and ideology are bigger than individuals on both sides of the line. Perhaps this failing is a result of the film's reliance on male and female binaries. Or, perhaps it is something else, like the use of green and red streaking the sky like lasers in a Star Wars battle. The end of the film, however, dares to blur these boundaries of good and evil and that lends Fury's ending a nuance beyond: War is war, dammit! Moreover, this act of mercy makes the sacrifice of young men on both sides more evident and therefore the film's last vision of trauma is more than simple, and more haunting than the film's earlier flaws should allow it to be.
Bryan Harvey can be followed @LawnChairBoys.
*The green and red "lasers" may be indicative of tracers used during the war and therefore may be more historically accurate than not having them in the film.