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Killing Private Kraut
10-28-2016, 05:12 AM
Post: #1
Killing Private Kraut
...was one of your best yet, Rob.

I've been conflicted about that movie since 1999. I saw it and The Thin Red Line at around the same time. I was young, about 15, and most of my friends were intoxicated by Private Ryan's "intensity" (they used the word "intense" in every description). It might go back to Braveheart (at least for my generation), getting a taste of "intense" battle scenes that they want sated by every subsequent war film. Brain chemistry is a cruel mistress. I've always preferred The Thin Red Line, which feels more balanced and compassionate.
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10-30-2016, 01:37 AM (This post was last modified: 01-08-2017 04:36 AM by On A Mission From Gadd.)
Post: #2
RE: Killing Private Kraut
I will be alone in this, but my favourite anti war movie is without doubt Altman's MASH. I once read a study about surgeons banter during surgery. One would expect the talk to be of an extremely serious nature, considering the life and death situations they encounter in an operating theater. On the contrary though, the talk was of anything but most of the time. Golf handicaps, football scores and the mpg of your latest ride being the sorts of things they chat about. The conclusion to the study stated that rather than become consumed by the serious nature of what they are doing ( ie fiddling around in the open carcass of a living human being!) the banter helped the doctors do their job better. In other words, the casual nature of the chit chat 'took the edge off' the proceedings. Mash takes that premise and uses humour as the foil to the horror of war.....and inversly to that horror, it is one of the wittiest movies I have ever seen. The movie has one of the great closing lines in cinema too, 'goddamn army"! Never mind beating round the bush, Alman has one of his characters say exactly what the director thinks of war.

[i]Final cut, that's a scary thing to have given to a guy like me[/i]
PT Anderson
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01-08-2017, 04:45 AM
Post: #3
RE: Killing Private Kraut
After watching the second video on Saving Private Ryan, I am remined of a religious notion invented by the Jesuits during the time of the Conquistadors in South America called Liberation Theology. In short, when asked to explain how Jesuits could fight and kill in allegiance with the indigenous peoples, they said that sometimes a little hurt, a little 'evil' had to be done to spare us from even greater evil. In other words, you would be forgiven for killing a few Conquitadors if it meant saving entire villages and the way of life of those villagers. I am betting Speilberg is referencing that in the film. Lots of movies do though. A movie we love here, The Terminator, has Kyle Reese performing violent acts in order to save the world from even greater evil. The difference being, Saving Private Ryan would seem to be referencing the religious aspect as well as the moral one.

[i]Final cut, that's a scary thing to have given to a guy like me[/i]
PT Anderson
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03-19-2017, 05:22 AM
Post: #4
RE: Killing Private Kraut
I watched SPR for the first time this week. As always Rob provides some fascinating thoughts and very professionally put together.

However, whilst I am something like 85-90% in agreement with Rob Ager, and agree entirely that it is war propaganda and its using religious overtones in a disturbingly simplistic way, I did have a few quibbles as well.

My biggest is about the Upham/ Steamboat Willy story, in which I think Rob's analysis could well be true, but there could be more ambiguity or even a very different reading.

Just think-
-Upham is chosen for the mission because he speaks German, Willy is the only German who speaks English and we see that he has knowledge of America
-Steamboat willy is captured near a machine gun nest- Upham meets the German who spares his life when he is wrapped in machine gun bullets resupplying the machine gun post
-Most significantly Miller's squad surround the unarmed Willy and overpower him, but let him live. The German we see stab Mellish could easily kill Upham but lets him live
-Whilst Rob theorised that the German who kills Mellish looks like Steamboat willy to portray the Germans as older skinheads, I thought that there could be an alternative reading that they closely resemble each other because there is some mirror to the situation
-We see Upham cowering in a pit, surrounded by armed Germans- we see Willy forced to dig his own grave surrounded by armed Americans
-We see the Americans armed with Tommy guns, carbines, pistols, bazookas, machine guns etc but when he shoots Willy, we see Upham with a rifle much like the one Willy uses to shoot Miller
-When we are introduced to Upham and he collects his gear, he accidentally grabs a German helmet, we only briefly see Willy wearing a helmet in one long shot. When he rejoins the Germans he is not wearing a helmet (though with all the dead Germans it would be easy to replace)- we continually see both men without helmets or caps, distinctly from the other soldiers- the main exception being the German who seems to be Willy's double (like Willy his helmet is knocked off when he is introduced)
-This one could be coincidence or even pushing it, but Upham and Willy both wear clothes that are too big for them. Arguably the wardrobe design uses this as an easy trick with Upham to emphasise his gawkiness- but given that Willy is very tall anyway, it seemed odd that his clothes would be oversized

So would Spielberg take very literally a legal technicality that Upham did not promise to surrender to the German who lets him live so therefore he is entirely entitled to go on to continue fighting, whilst it's right that he gets to shoot Willy (maybe in the gut or gonads)? Or could he have been more ambiguous on this point?

I noticed as well that when the Americans get maimed by the German machine gun at the final battle scene the Germans shoot them in the chest which seems a contrast to the 'don't shoot them, let them burn' scene in the opening battle.

There was a lot about SPR that was painfully sentimental and tub thumping in its WW2 propaganda, but I do wonder if there was more under the surface ?
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