Last Friday I snuck out of work to see Fury – the movie where Brad Pitt shoots people with a tank while conveying a lot of ambiguity and/or stoicism. Whatever it is Brad Pitt is doing. It’s certainly made him weary. Sometimes he just has to look. You know those scenes in Brad Pitt movies where the audience or the other characters might expect Brad Pitt’s character to say something, but instead he just looks? Powerful.
The movie isn’t terrible or anything, it’s just sort of childish. A war comic with extra gore, plus looking. But late in the exercise, our stoic and ambiguous tank crew are all sitting around with The New Guy (after he’s ambiguously raped a stoic German girl) and you might think they’re a bunch of assholes, but no. This is when they tell him some of the Things They've Seen.
And what they've seen is the aftermath of closing the Falaise Pocket.
Just talking about it makes Shia LaBeouf’s character cry.
It’s all very Quint from Jaws tells you about the USS Indianapolis. The point is, these guys love killing Germans, but there are limits. And remember, it’s not just Shia who felt that way about Falaise. Look, here’s Ike, from Wikipedia:
“Forty-eight hours after the closing of the gap I was conducted through it on foot, to encounter scenes that could be described only by Dante. It was literally possible to walk for hundreds of yards at a time, stepping on nothing but dead and decaying flesh.”
And I thought: David Ayer, the guy who wrote Fury, is a smart guy. And he’s done a lot of period research, to gussy up this sort of lame star vehicle/ego trip/action movie. And the truth he’s laying on you – the deep, dark, hard, war-is-hell truth – is that you may think World War Two was all fun, but if you were as stoic and ambiguous as me, you’d know there was place called Falaise…
And the only person alive who hears “Falaise” and thinks: “The time we let all those Germans get away? We really bungled that one!” is Richard Rohmer.
He’s an interesting guy.