Tropes and memes

The SOE agents were trapped. Each man saved the last bullet for himself. They dumped the magazine, put the bullet in, put the magazine back in the gun, pulled back the slide, then put the gun to their head.

I kept thinking ‘why?’

Not ‘why were they going to kill themselves?’ Compared to a cosy evening with the Gestapo I could understand that. A friend used to work in a building in Amsterdam the Gestapo were said to have  taken over on Prinzengracht. Nobody liked being in the cellars. Even 60 years later, in broad daylight.

Why eject the magazine? It’s just a waste of time and effort, when in the circumstances, with half the Wermacht pounding up the stairs, time was something none of them had a lot of. If you leave the magazine in the gun and pull the slide back, you can drop the only bullet you’re going to need now straight into where it should be, let the slide push it to where it seats on the throat of the barrel and get on with meeting your maker.

But you’d have to know that. And you’d have to sacrifice the trope of re-loading the magazine one bullet at a time, which gets done three times in the film to calm the character down. More than not volunteering to be parachuted into Czechoslovakia in the first place.  More than the first person you meet phoning the Germans. More than his mate legging it into the woods and getting away. More than taking his truck and not only driving it straight to where you’re hiding

More than his mate legging it into the woods and getting away. More than taking his truck and not only driving it straight to where you’re hiding-out, but leaving the lights on in broad daylight for unspecified reasons.

More than taking pictures of the admittedly rather handsome red-haired woman helping you and keeping them in your wallet, presumably to save the Gestapo some time beating the crap out of you to find out who you know. Which they’ll do anyway, to keep in practice.

More tropes. More Things You Have ToHave In Movies.

Tasty Resistance Girl With Attitude

                 Your gun’s dirty. Clean it.

Feisty powerful woman – check. Explanation for how come it was, given it was straight from stores and had never been fired – well……..  let’s get on, shall we?

Like taking the guns apart and putting them back together. Like putting them all on the table while you’re looking at the map, for no discernible reason I could see. Other than That’s What You Do In Movies Like This. Don’t they know there’s a war on? They do now.

There was plenty I liked about Anthropoid. I liked the fact that the book I discovered a couple of years ago had been made into a film, not least as it was basically true – two men were parachuted into Czechoslovakia, pretty much everything did go wrong and they still managed to kill Reinhard Heydrich in the street, the architect of the final solution, number three in the entire echelon of Nazidom. And obviously the Nazis were not best pleased by this turn of events, with rather less than hilarious consequences.

I liked more the sheer volume of the soundtrack, the massive roar of noise you’d actually get if someone opened-up with a machine-gun in a stone church, compared to the sanitised-for-your-convenience pop-pop-pop of Hollywood sound mixes. I liked the white noise after explosions, exactly the way your ears would react if you’d been close to a grenade. I liked the way it looked as if bullets actually hurt, not because I’m a sadist but because it made the point that None Of This War Stuff Was Nice, something glossed-over in lots of films. Where Anthropoid had a weakness in that respect it was glaring – it only looked as if it hurt the guys fighting the Nazis. When the guys in the stalhelmen and feldgrau bit the dust it didn’t look much more painful than any old YouTube episode of Combat, made for a generation who ‘d done this stuff and now wanted to kick back with a beer in a recliner chair and talk about the time Joe did that thing with the doozy that time in Yerp.

It was an OK way to spend a couple of hours. Go and see it. Revel in the period clothes, haircuts and rather becoming thin-ness of the main characters. And thank whoever you thank you weren’t born then.

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