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Culture/Reviews > Movies
Movie reviews from Proletarian Internationalist Notes—news, reviews and analysis from a global perspective
When an anti-war movie is a pro-war movie: “Fury” and the Western brotherhood of arms today
Dir. David Ayer
Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña
R (MPAA), 134 minutes, 2014
A private has to clean pieces of exploded face out of a tank. A tank runs over a corpse in the road. Hitler Youth have to die in fighting. Bodies arrive by the truckload to be shoved into the ground. Nazis die painful white phosphorous deaths. War is horrible for everyone as usual, but Amerikans are still brave—even a Nazi can see that—just more mentally so. Most of the killing in “Fury” takes place perched at the top of or from inside a tank. Young private Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) has to “man up” and suffer different mental traumas before reflex takes over and ey becomes effective with a machine gun. Norman earns the nickname “Machine.” Ey has the heroism of a robot almost and ultimately the selflessness of one. It is said even Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) was scared the first time eir crew got shot at, crapped eir pants. “Fury” suggests there is an emptiness to heroism with everyone developing in a predictable fashion (which may be true in a materialist sense, but doesn’t change the fact that war is still necessary to overthrow imperialism).
In the non-movie world, Amerikans are more likely to pilot an armed drone, from a trailer in the united $tates, than drive a tank in war. Most so-called tank drivers in the u.$. military today will never drive a tank in war. Similarly, British soldiers and drivers/operators rarely operate a tank in war today. Also, Amerikan and British casualty rates are much lower than in the past, but many survivors have mental health issues. Amerikan males need not worry about any of this, though; they can still make themselves desirable to females through shirtless Brad Pitt, who is daring as “Devil watches over his own” “Wardaddy” though sometimes mentally overwhelmed.
Many drone pilots have “post-traumatic stress disorder” supposedly. Since “Fury” depicts costly hesitation on the battlefield and portrays those who survive battles as being potentially mentally disturbed, First World people could see “Fury” and end up thinking unreliable or damaged warriors should be replaced with computers or robots. It seems many war films since the 1980s that might be considered critical or contemplative have just led to new justifications for war, more use of air forces, or new types of warfare. Amerikan progressivism is a myth.
“Who do you think you are? Jesus Christ?” The Norman Ellison character reminded this reviewer of former Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl, who was released several months before “Fury” came out in the united $tates. Bergdahl had trouble adapting, has been perceived since eir release as a coward or soft, and thought ey was better than fellow soldiers. In some ways, people who might identify with Ellison (who disagrees with shooting an SS captive illegally among other things) or Bergdahl (regardless of Bergdahl’s party affiliation) may be increasingly typical in the Amerikan military. Politically correct liberal Democrats might have more to complain about in regard to others in the military—and the heterosexual males among them want to have sex with females who are less likely to express support for wars in surveys—but they still need a military to kill poor Muslims. So there is a desire to have that with as little obvious blood on their own hands as possible. Supposedly Bergdahl wanted to fight the Taliban, just more effectively, so another possibility is to be gung ho but act like one is more wise and virtuous than unrefined people of Republican background. Democrats think they are smarter than everyone else in spying on and killing people.
“Do I think Jesus loves Hitler? I’d assume so.” “You think you could save me?” “Fury” has a Christian theme most conspicuously with biblically versed corporal Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf). Some have criticized “Fury” as if it condemned humynity in general or treated people equally without regard for details of class. According to Boyd, people just do what they have to do and then need to be “saved” because of it. It is a dismal view that leaves no room for chauvinism supposedly or advancement relative to others. Leave it up to Western phony progressives to confuse two mostly-white armies with the whole of humynity, equating white to the universal. Western whites haven’t evidenced much drive for progress so there is a need to boost their reputation and say they can prove themselves despite all their problems. Vacuous flowery words about humynity by those supposedly criticizing Christianity are actually reminiscent of Christianity of other kinds. That Amerikans in general are a bad influence internationally is something the world needs to understand clearly without ideas about redemption, reconciliation, or mysterious sources of progressive subjectivity, clouding things.
If “Fury” were a movie suggesting moral equivalence between Amerikans and the Muslim proletarians and toilers fighting them, it would be a good movie relative to many other Amerikan war movies since 9/11. “Fury” isn’t that movie. It’s about similarly equipped whites from different imperialist countries in a conventional, regular war seven decades ago, and the result is to make Amerikans look good with Brad Pitt movie star pornography.
“We’re not here for right and wrong.” It’s just we’re here to kill Nazis, and Nazis are here to kill us. In addition to suggesting a common amorality, “Fury” has a theme of so-called ordinary Germans and ordinary German soldiers being oppressed by, or different from, the SS. This is unfortunate in seeming to whitewash, by analogy, the behavior of the reactionary Amerikan majority.
Michael Peña plays a Spanish-speaking tank crew member, “Gordo,” as an assimilationist symbol. Don tells Gordo to talk “American,” not “Mexican.” Don says ey speaks German because it is useful in Germany. Gordo disagrees, saying Don knew German before the war. Like others, Gordo doesn’t act like a saint, but then who could be a saint fighting for the united $tates today except the deluded? Overall, though, the Gordo character seems to serve a purpose of military recruitment or inclusion in Amerika. Gordo fights for Amerika, just speaking Spanish while doing so (without anyone saying anything about it later). Many Chican@s and migrants join the u.$. military despite experiencing insult and discrimination, partly because there is too much anti- “racism” (binding brown people to Amerikan economic privilege and promises of privilege, as well as to a colonial situation causing higher unemployment and other issues) and not enough anti-Amerikan nationalist struggle.
There are a couple lines about fighting invaders. “Why don’t they just quit?” “Would you?” This could influence how a few Amerikans think about the people they are killing, or it could just be that Amerika’s enemies are fanatics. “Fury’s” portrayal of enemies as selfless diehards may cause a greater perception of threat in Amerikans and Britons.
World War II began as inter-imperialist rivalry and war against the Soviet Union and oppressed nations. Ideas of equivalence between Amerikans and Germans in that context would be misleading and today have a pro-Nazi context when the Soviet Union is excluded from the white brotherhood/sisterhood. Notions of equality between imperialist countries are more useful in contexts of inter-imperialist war only. Although, today—as at some points during the so-called Cold War—one would have to be careful to not support ideas of Amerikan-Russian unity against oppressed nations. “Fury” seems reactionary today for humynizing a white imperialist country enemy of the united $tates while saying nothing about China or another oppressed country as an ally or enemy. Of course it wasn’t China the Amerikans were fighting with or alongside in the invasion of Germany, but most Amerikans today know little about World War II. Many know that various countries were involved, but believe Westerners were the only heroes and know that Amerikans and Germans are allies today. Despite being set during World War II, “Fury” could be a pro-NATO movie for many viewers.
Unexpectedly, sexuality is one area in which “Fury” may be slightly less worthless politically than in other areas. At one point, Don and Norman impose themselves on two German females in a German town. The females cook for them. After playing the piano Norman has impressed the younger female, Emma. They go to another room by themselves. “They’re young, and they’re alive,” Don says to assuage concern. The rest of the tank crew shows up talking about a “special girl” below for Norman to “act the man” with, not knowing Norman has already been with Emma. It’s also suggested that being “a man” involves drinking alcohol. The latecomers serve as a contrast to Don and Norman, who seem to have better manners and more refinement. There are those who would say because Emma and Norman are young, and there is desire, consent, and talk of “love,” and Norman doesn’t vocalize degrading thoughts about females, there is nothing to think about. “Fury” demolishes that idea. The interaction takes place in a war situation in which weddings are rudely interrupted (a German female walks along the road in a white dress) and people would also have sex “for a chocolate bar” as discussed earlier in the movie. Who knows what Emma was really feeling or thinking. Maybe it is that Norman probably hadn’t taken a bath in a while, or that Don had just threatened to have sex with Emma if Norman didn’t. Actually, it is clear Emma and the older relative, at the beginning and at the end of the apartment scenes, would have rather Don and Norman not been there no matter how good the sex felt. In fact, in the circumstances there seems to be no way one could have sex that could not be suspected of being involved in oppression somewhere.
It is not that Western people generally have sex today as distinct oppressors and oppressed, or that Germans were primarily victims of Amerikans. The latter would be Nazi propaganda even though it is true German soldiers never went to the united $tates and then had sex with Amerikans under an invasion or occupation. The point is there is a whole spectrum of sex that Western sexual culture has difficulty approaching critically, and there are ways the culture (which represents the gender privilege of Western males and Western females) is actually a hindrance to progress and can’t be viewed positively in all (or most) aspects relative to some cultures targeted by Westerners. War aside, Westerners have trouble even with sexual harassment topics. If a female in the First World has sex with eir boss and claims to enjoy or benefit from it, and another female maybe less attractive (who hasn’t been directly harassed yet) complains, there are stupid pseudo-feminists whose impulse would be to criticize the complaining female as if ey were intruding on another female’s use of female “sexual power” for mutual benefit. It may actually be the case there is today less of a power difference between an attractive white female and a boss in the First World than one might think, but that doesn’t mean the situation in which such interaction is allowed is tolerable. One has to think about what females in the Third World would have to do to compete with a Western female.
“Fury” doesn’t deal with issues of power and structure explicitly, but it may in a very indirect way make a few Western viewers uncomfortable with the permissive “consensual” drinking and sex culture they disdain Muslim countries for not having. “Fury” jarringly suggests there are situations in which the political correctness, language, thoughts, feelings etc. of individuals are irrelevant. The end is the same for Emma and the persyn down there who might be having sex for food more openly.
Or “Fury” could just be received by viewers as saying individuals like Norman are commendable, because people need sex regardless of circumstance supposedly. That would fit the movie’s possible message that profane imperfect Westerners are still redeemable. ◊
“Fury (2014) movie script,” http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/movie_script.php?movie=fury-2014