Verisimilitude in war films

For reasons not worth explaining, I’ve seen the 2014 movie Fury, which follows a Sherman tank crew behind enemy lines in the waning days of WWII.

I wasn’t impressed.

The ‘morning after’ sensation is even worse.

The quest for authenticity and realism in combat does not get us closer to truth.

The quest for authenticity and realism in depictions of combat does not inherently multiply a film’s ability to mean.

I trace the modern version of this quest back to the execrable, lamentable, unwatchable Platoon. I distinctly remember conversations about its authenticity, based on the fact that its director served in a platoon in Vietnam. Later, the equally unwatchable, and equally manipulative Saving Private Ryan continued the trend of amplifying the aesthetics of authenticity–which is a laughable conceit given the essential artifice of filmmaking in the first place–with a particular emphasis on the realism of the D-Day landing. No punches pulled, apparently.

Fury takes its cues from both of its predecessors, and attempts to raise the stakes again, and to me, mostly plays as an empty exercise in style, abetted by abundant, and not always terribly convincing CGI.

But audiences will have their guts.

They will have their guts, accurate depictions of what exactly a .50 caliber round does to an ankle, their wonderfully mesmerizing cascades of rainbow hued tracer fire, pancaked, incinerated human bodies, and particles of flying flesh, god help them.

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