Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fury - The Movie and the Human Mind

I saw the latest Brad Pitt movie, Fury, and was struck by a particular scene that seemed to be analogous to a mental orchestration of competing ideas.  On the surface, the movie is the story of a team of 5 men who form the crew members of a Sherman Tank, lead by Don "Wardaddy" Collier, played by Brad Pitt. Yet on a deeper level, the movie is about the inner workings of the human mind itself.

The Sherman Tank the team travels around in throughout the movie is analogous to the human head, and each person represents a different way of interpreting and reacting to the same situation. The one scene that is particularly interesting in this respect happens when, after arriving in a small town, "Wardaddy" decides to play Dad after he finds two women hiding in an upstairs apartment of a nearby building. Taking the youngest and newest member of his tank team with him, Wardaddy enters their apartment and, after checking all the rooms, closes the front door.

By closing the door, Wardaddy is, in effect, shutting out the war, and trying to experience what it means to be a real Dad. Opening a steel box he is carrying with him, he unfolds some fresh eggs and gives them to the older of the two women to cook for them. The eggs represent new life, of course, and by giving them to the woman to cook, Wardaddy is giving birth to the fantasy of a new life as a family man. To put it another way, Wardaddy has exited the metal mind of the war, represented by the tank, and entered the paternal mind of a middle class family man, represented by the apartment.

This fantasy unfolds further as Wardaddy shaves his beard, as any father would do in the morning while his wife - in this case represented by the elder of the two woman - cooks the traditional American breakfast meal of eggs, sunny side up. What's interesting here is that they are in Germany, and in Germany, while they sometimes eat eggs for breakfast, they typically eat their eggs hard or soft boiled. This further suggests that what we are watching is actually a fantasy, being played out in Wardaddy's mind, of what it would be like for him to be home, in America, getting ready for a normal days work.

Wardaddy eventually sends the younger tank crew member and the young girl he found in the apartment, into an adjacent bedroom to have sex "if you don't take her in there," he says, "I will." The younger soldier goes with the girl, makes love, and returns to the table. This part of the scene is interesting  in more ways then one.

First, the sex represents the young soldiers coming of manhood, not as a soldier, or course, but as the "son" that Wardaddy wants to pretend him to be in his fantasy of being a family man. Likewise, when the young soldier returns, it is as if he had just awoken and come downstairs from their home with the white picket fence, just in time for breakfast to be served.

This all changes when the three other members of the tank crew stumble into the apartment, drunk and looking for Wardaddy. In effect, their abrupt unwanted entry into the apartment represents the uninvited thoughts of war that are slowing intruding back into Wardaddy's mind. He struggles to maintain his focus on the family facade he has created for himself, but to no avail.

When the eggs are finally served, one of the drunk tank crew grabs it off the plate of the younger girl, licks it all over, and throws it back on her plate. This is the taste of war coming back to Wardaddy. Then, as they try to eat, the other members begin to tell of a horrifying experience they had earlier. These then are the thoughts of war itself growing stronger, actually speaking directly to Wardaddy, pulling him out of his fantasy and back into hell. Wardaddy struggles to maintain his calm, knowing that if he looses his temper, the war wins.

Eventually, another soldier finds Wardaddy with new order to move out, killing the fantasy as the war swallows his mind fully. Shortly after leaving their apartment, a bomb lands on the building, killing the women inside. The war takes everything, in other words, and in doing so, leaves no hope of normalcy uninfected with its horror.

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