Fury: Just How Realistic Do War Movies Have to Get?

I watched Fury the other day. Just me for this one, as I’d heard it was a pretty brutal tank movie. Guess what? They were right. It was also a very solid movie in its own right. Brad Pitt stars as a tank commander in the last days of WWII as he and his crew carve through the German countryside in an effort to bring a final end to the war. Shia LaBeouf and his mustache costar.

Make no mistake about it: this movie is bloody. That’s part of the point: to depict just how awful and terrible war can be. How bloody? When they start showing pieces of faces scattered around the inside of the tank, then you know you’re getting pretty graphic. That’s about the most extreme as far as actual depictions go, but the film also shows that simple blood isn’t the most disturbing thing about war.

It’s a character piece in many ways, too. A new recruit is plopped into the middle of this crew. He’s idealistic. He wants to do the right thing, and he’s totally unprepared for the terrors that await.

Did I like the movie? Yes, I did. Was it historically accurate? Not completely. From what I’ve read online, it took a variety of stories from throughout the war and had them all happen to a single crew, and some of those stories may or may not have been true. A bigger question I had after watching it was “How accurate was its bloody depiction of war?”

I’ve never been to war, and I’m in no rush to go. That said, this depiction did seem very authentic to me in the same way that Saving Private Ryan seemed authentic. And yet I know that often just because something seems authentic to someone who knows nothing about the subject doesn’t mean it’s actually authentic. (There’s a confusing sentence for you!) One way or another, however, it helped me to understand just what some of those soldiers might have been facing in the war.

Did it have to be that bloody? I’m not sure, honestly. But as I think about it, I think I begin to side with saying “Yes,” even if it wasn’t accurate in its depiction. This was one of the few war movies I’ve watched that helped me understand soldiers better, or at least feel like I understand them better. I’ve seen plenty of great war movies, but they typically begin to paint things in a softer light. They glorify heroes or overlook the actual process of dying and killing that goes on during war. Don’t get me wrong–Fury also glorifies fighting to an extent (the climax of the film is hard to believe, for one thing, even if it’s thrilling to watch).

But it also has its characters be a mixed bag. Germans aren’t the only evil ones, and Americans aren’t the only good ones. At times, the Americans are much scarier than the Germans, without giving away any spoilers.

So it was an action movie that made me think, which doesn’t always happen. Can I recommend it? Not unless you have a strong stomach. But if you do, I believe the film is worth your time. I’m glad I watched it. 9/10

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