If the film is taken as a documentary, it gets only general events and characters correct; we could argue about what weapon Lovat carried for instance, as it's not known for certain. We could also debate about what Cota really said on the beach as there could be doubt about his actual comments. That dialogue and those props were chosen for certain reasons. Perhaps not a lot of thought was given to those things, but nonetheless they may be points of discussion in terms of reality vs. what may be called "fantasy", if I define 'fantasy' as things that didn't actually happen but were put in the film. If the film was intended to be a documentary, it strays slightly from actual events for various reasons- pershaps the people involved couldn't remember what they actually said, or what they carried, on that day, which is understandable. Nevertheless, it is a point of deviation from exact factual events.
That sort of thing is easily forgiven as it is quite understandable. Another is that the entire event didn't take place in the brief time the movie runs for. We understand these limitations and even expect them. But let's look at a factor in the film that nobody comments on, usually: it's filmed in Black and White, not Color. Its so obvious it's not even really considered by many viewers. Consider why this may have been done. The reasons could be many. Whatever the reason, the actual events obviously took place in full visual color. Here we again have a deviation from reality: but why? Why this deviation from factual portrayal? The reason is that film is an art form and the choice of film is part of that art. Black and White was chosen to give the film a certain feel; most people recall newsreels, etc from WWII as being filmed in Black and White; color was certainly used but was not very common. Having this film shot in Black and White was therefore a conscious choice to preserve the 'feel' of the events for the audience in a way that they will immediately identify with how they have always known the subject.
A lot of what producers and directors do is to make the film accessible
to an audience; to make the film easily understood or identified with. The most accurate documentary ever made will not hold an audience's attention without the film being enjoyable to watch.
Being of a limited length, the film condenses many events. We also acknowledge and 'forgive' this flaw as well; it's necessary. I have given several examples, some minor, and one major, in which we don't even really think to question a deviation from reality. Let's look at the specifics- the Mauser making the 'cricket' noise.
The desperation of combat, the finality of a mistake, the brutal and unforgiving speed at which death could come to a soldier is not only an emotionally tricky subject for a film-maker (they want audiences to like the film, not become depressed or nauseated) but in some cases, technically tricky too; the time to set up a scene and deliver the emotional message of a death scene such as that takes precious minutes in a film to set up and portray. In a film with so many stars, minutes spent on secondary characters would be budgeted very closely. So the film-makers chose a very fantastical but emotionally effective "hook"- the snapping of the bolt of the rifle sounding just like the cricket. Perhaps this is how the soldier that died misinterpreted the sound. Perhaps its pure allegory. In any case, it was a clean and efficient use of the minutes to portray the brutally quick and senseless death of that soldier. It works very well as artistic cinema. In a film in which you or I can point out many historical errors if we look hard enough, this scene is the most inaccurate I can recall, and the film only goes into this blatant 'fantasy' once to my recollection. It was used to make a point, to deliver a message- that any of these men could have died in a heartbeat, from dangers un-suspected and from tiny mistakes, and there were no excuses or second chances. In it's era of film-making, this type of deviation from factual events was not very uncommon. Although it's something of a 'trick' today, it worked well and accomplished it's goal: you certainly do remember the scene and what happened to the soldier, after all
Edited by Chris_B, 05 April 2012 - 12:52 PM.