First of all, I suggest that, if you haven’t watched the movie in a while, watch it again. Even after a dozen viewings, it’s rough going, and that’s not even a reference to the first bloody D-Day sequences.
In the comments to the 3-D Warriors post, reader CitadelGrad disputes my recollection of the plot. Little did I know that this dispute has been a long-running one among fans of the movie.
Laβ es uns beendigt.*
Es ist einfach für dich. Viel einfach.
Sorry, Marine, but I think that “Steamboat Willie” (Jörg Stadler) and the German who shoots Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) are the same person. The German, however, who kills Private Mellish (Adam Goldberg) is a different person. Recall that Corporal Upham (the translator; Jeremy Davies) could have saved Private Mellish. The latter even calls out to Upham several times, during Mellish’s battle with the German. Upham, however, cowers just around the corner on the stairs. After the German takes Mellish out with a knife to the heart, he saunters down the stairs past the still-cowering Upham, deeming—correctly—that Upham is no threat to him.
Just as the German reaches the bottom of the stairs, there is a full-on close-up of him as he looks around to see if the coast is clear. Different actor (probably Erich Redman, billed as German #1); smaller nose, no dimples, unlike Mr. Stadler.
Near the end of the movie, five Germans are the on the attack as Upham observes them--hidden, but close. His recognition of “Steamboat Willie” is obvious and, as it turns out, it is Willie who takes out Captain Miller. Upham sense of outrage overcomes his fear and he confronts the entire squad, forcing them to cease-fire and surrender.
Ich kenne den Soldaten.
Ich kenne den Mann.
Upham takes Willie out with one bullet, then allows the others to escape.
Even if the man Upham shot had not been Willie, but had been Mellish’s killer, the assertion still stands, however, that Upham committed a war crime: one cheered by movie-goers nearly the world over. And why? Because no real blood was shed. It was all make-believe.
(Cast information courtesy of the ever-handy Internet Movie Database)
ADDENDUM: I would like to thank CitadelGrad, however, for forcing me to watch the movie again. The difference of opinion was minor. It needs to be seen again and held up against the context of real-world events. Additionally, and again, very minor, I enjoy doing movie reviews.
*Not sure which verb was used: beenden or beendigen. Blame it on my deteriorating German. (Native Germans can feel free to give corrections.)