Going to the Movies: Fury or Interstellar?

At the pictures

There are two films in the cinema at the moment that I want to see, and you can probably guess what both of them are if you happen to be a semi-regular here.  I said it to my beloved son Bullet but he was so up to his neck in commitments,as well as having a severe chest infection, all he could do was grunt.

Hmmmm.  What to do?

Fury can’t be missed.  It just can’t, and I won’t.   If it has tanks in it and a lot of  realistic violence, I’m there.  No apologies to bleeding-heart liberals.  Graphic violence in a war movie is my thing, for the obvious reason that war is about extremely graphic violence anyway, so what exactly is the objection?

I look forward to seeing how Brad Pitt expands his ludicrous reinterpretation of the ultra-macho Apocalypse Now Kilgore figure beyond the point he reached in Inglourious Basterds, with his utterly OTT Aldo Raine character.  Admittedly,  I might be a little previous in suggesting this, since I haven’t read any of the reviews, for the avoidance of spoilers.  For all I know, he doesn’t play Kilgore / Raine.  For all I know, he’s some sort of non-Nazi Michael Wittman, with the bulletproof craziness but without the ideology.  Or maybe he’s actually no different from any SS tank commander.   That”s the great thing about anticipation.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a movie about knitting techniques, with Brad Pitt, tanks, Nazis and explosions.

I don’t care what anyone says.  Tiger tanks were cool.  It’s true that they were killing machines, but what weapon isn’t?  Tigers were self-contained, motorised, mobile medieval castles, terrifying in every way and yet hiding an awful truth.  Tigers were deeply ill-conceived.  They were over-engineered, under-powered, fatally dependent on petrol and were only built that size to carry the truly terrifying 88 mm  cannon that could devastate any opposition in a one-on-one confrontation.  They consumed vast industrial resources compared to the American M4, or the Sherman as the Brits called it, a tank half the weight of the Tiger just like the Russian T34, 84,000 of which were churned out by  the Soviet war machine.

In many ways, you could say that the  German obsession with engineering excellence cost them the war.

But still, the Tiger is cool, and I like tank movies with Tigers in them as long as there’s no Telly Savalas.   In movies,  I also like psychopathic killers, Nazis and general murder, so what’s not to like?

Now, Interstellar threatens to be an entirely different matter.  I’m not looking for any sort of violence, stylised or otherwise.  I want to wallow in the sort of galactic speculation that animated much of my adolescent life, when I dreamed of being a cosmologist.

Hey, come on.  Who couldn’t stare up at the splash of our galaxy across the firmament and not dream of being a cosmologist?

Where’s your soul?

Who could not stare out into the void and want to know what that thing is that they’re staring at?  It’s right there in front of you:  countless billions of galaxies, each containing countless billions of stars, and every single one of those stars is like the sun, but not only that: you’re looking at them as they were millions of years ago because that”s how long it took the light to reach your eye.  You’re looking into the past, an unimaginably remote past before the first twitch  of proto-life on this rock and there it is in front of you right now.  There in front of you is a time when nothing at all lived on this rock wheeling around an insignificant minor star on the edge of an insignificant galaxy.

Out there, it’s impossible  to imagine that not only civilisations, but entire eco-systems emerged and disappeared, from sludge-life to apex predator, from slime-form to philosopher, over and over and over and over again, through the billennia.

And yet some people still think we’re the reason the universe exists.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, even though we have not the slightest inkling of how the whole thing works, we can in some way begin to understand that there is a commonality to the whole baffling melange of galaxies and dark matter.  We begin to see that perhaps what’s true for here is also true for there.  We know that, even though we are displaced from each other by unimaginable gulfs of space and time, still our galaxy and the ones on the other edge of the void are made of the same stuff because there is no other kind of stuff to make stuff from.  There are no other rules to make things work.  We still are bound by the recitation that never leaves us if we know what it means.

And so, as surely as I can recite the Cremation of Sam McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.


Just as surely, and without hesitation, I can say to you

Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Beryllium
Boron, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen
Fluorine, Neon,Sodium,  Magnesium
Aluminum, Silicon,Phosphorus, Sulfur

These are things we drill into ourselves at an early age, and so we should since they reveal to us  the nature of our  humanity, whether it involves a desire to understand the fundamental nature of our physical substance, or the fundamental nature of our human absurdity.

Having a laugh or having a poke around reality aren’t all that different.

At this point, it seems appropriate to pause for a song from the wonderful Tom Lehrer.


But enough of this nonsense.  All I’m trying to tell you is that I hope to see two good pictures in the coming weeks and that can’t be too bad, can it?

I’m glad to say Bullet is feeling much better and we have a plan to see both of these movies before long.

5 thoughts on “Going to the Movies: Fury or Interstellar?

  1. I remember reading that the crews of Sherman tanks called them Ronsons -a popular brand of cigarette lighter at the time – because they caught fire so easily.

    That must have been difficult for any tank crew, knowing not only that you had an 80% chance of dying but that death would probably be by burning. Brave men, no matter what side they were on.

  2. I’m not sure there’s unanimity on that. Some people say the name was only used for the flame=thrower versions.

    The Germans had a much more macabre name for the M4: the Tommy Cooker.

  3. I believe that the Sherman was pejoratively called a “Ronson” by the American crews after the cigarette lighter sales motto which, at the time read: “lights the first time, every time”.

    At least the version of the M4 that’s shown in a trailor I saw was a ‘Firefly’ and had a decent 17 pounder gun.

  4. Very keen to see Interstellar, being a massive sci-fi fan I’d probably watch a constipated astronaut taking a poo on a space station for an hour and a half if they got the lighting right. I’ve heard Nightcrawler, which is currently showing, is also supposed to be a very good yarn.

  5. There were only about 1,350 Tiger 1’s made, and 150 or so of the even heavier Tiger 2. “King-Tiger”. The Tiger’s were a luxury the Krauts could ill afford, but they had a phsycological impact on the battlefield that far exceeded their numbers, or even their much vaunted  abilities. You heard of “Spitfire Snobbery”, well by the end of the war every German tank was a Tiger in the eyes of the Allies, and they were literally shitting themselves at the thoughts of meeting one.

    The Panzer Mk4 was a much more practical tank,far cheaper and simpler to make and maintain, yet perfectly adequate for most of the roles it had to do, especially when fitted with the high-velocity 75mm cannon and additional armour. The Panther was a fine tank too of course, but was rushed into service before it was really ready and suffered mechanical difficulties.

    All the Brit tanks were petrol engined, as were most of the Shermans. God love them, they were brave men. The only worse way to go to war than in a tank, was in a submarine, in my opinion!.

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