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  #101  
Old 02-01-2020, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by peccavi View Post
I believe this is covered by what I call "the John Ford Rule".

One of Ford's first big successes was the movie Stagecoach (WARNING: Spoilers for a 90+ year old movie!). Towards the end of the picture, there is a desperate chase of the stagecoach across the plains by Indians. When William S. Hart was asked his opinion of the movie, he pointed out that the Indians could have simply shot the horses and then picked off the passengers at their leisure. When the reporters took this critique to Ford, he had a simple reply as to why the Indians didn't use this tactic: "it would have been the end of the picture".

In any (sufficiently entertaining) motion picture, if this is the answer to a question that begins "Why didn't they just...", then it is covered by the John Ford Rule and exempt from penalty.
Well, you see, I have a better answer- the indians wanted the horses!
  #102  
Old 02-01-2020, 03:03 PM
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I haven't seen the movie. The premise based on TV ads/coming attractions was so unbelievable that it turned me off completely.

A couple of soldiers are sent by HQ on an urgent mission to prevent a few hundred (or however many) troops from being wiped out? Really?

High Allied command had a long-established pattern of conducting and prolonging hopeless offensives in which tens of thousands of men died. They would hardly have cared about a much smaller number being sacrificed unnecessarily.
Exactly my point.
  #103  
Old 02-01-2020, 03:10 PM
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Where and when was the British High Command shown in the film? The order came from the general played by Colin Firth.
Sure. You know any of them that gave a rats ass over their losses? Especially as Haig seemed to think higher losses meant you were doing a better job? "Hmm, this will cost me 1600 men. Damme, Haig will get me the DSO for this."

The incompetence of WW1 british generals can not be over stated.
  #104  
Old 02-01-2020, 04:23 PM
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How come they won the war, then?
  #105  
Old 02-01-2020, 04:33 PM
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It's fiction. I can come up with all sorts of plausible reasons why they might have sent those two soldiers on this mission, but I won't because that's not the point of the movie or any work of fiction at all. Homer was not an accurate account of ancient Greek warfare. Most legal dramas do not give accurate presentations of the legal profession. Same with spy movies, medical shows, and depictions of any profession. They are trying to tell compelling stories. If you want an accurate account of WW1, there are textbooks.
  #106  
Old 02-01-2020, 04:38 PM
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The incompetence of WW1 british generals can not be over stated.
Are you seriously arguing that out of the 1500-odd British generals serving in WWI, none of them would have been so competent as to risk a couple of lance corporals to save 1600 men?
  #107  
Old 02-01-2020, 04:46 PM
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It's fiction. I can come up with all sorts of plausible reasons why they might have sent those two soldiers on this mission, but I won't because that's not the point of the movie or any work of fiction at all. Homer was not an accurate account of ancient Greek warfare. Most legal dramas do not give accurate presentations of the legal profession. Same with spy movies, medical shows, and depictions of any profession. They are trying to tell compelling stories.
This argument ignores the fact that most creators of historical fiction do, in fact, make a point of researching the settings and events they're depicting. If the facts aren't important, then why bother doing this? Historical accuracy must count for something. Stories need to have some baseline of credibility if they're to engender engagement and emotional impact.
  #108  
Old 02-01-2020, 04:58 PM
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This argument ignores the fact that most creators of historical fiction do, in fact, make a point of researching the settings and events they're depicting. If the facts aren't important, then why bother doing this? Historical accuracy must count for something. Stories need to have some baseline of credibility if they're to engender engagement and emotional impact.
It's a line, and not a particularly bright one. I may have been overstating things. Yes, you do not want the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor, or Napoleon using machine guns, but you can sacrifice some detail for dramatic purposes. In this particular case, I think sending the two guys out on their mission was fine, regardless of the overall callousness of British high command. Maybe Colin Firth's character was sick of all the sacrifice and tried to make a gesture to stop an assault even more pointless than most? Who knows? It seems a silly thing to get worked up about.

I'll admit I did think of the Eagles to Mordor thing in your OP when I saw the airplanes.
  #109  
Old 02-01-2020, 05:08 PM
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So some people on the board think the movie is unrealistic because British commanders wouldn't have bothered sending two men to save a mere 1600 men, while others think it is unrealistic because the British commanders would never have relied on just two runners to deliver such an important message.

Can I suggest that nobody here has any idea what is realistic or not in such a scenario?
  #110  
Old 02-01-2020, 05:43 PM
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And we should be clear, that General Firth (sorry Colin but we're never going to remember the name of any character you play) is not from 'High Command'. He is clearly represented at the General officer commanding that particular sector of the front, so most likely a divisional commander. He is directly responsible for the safety of that force, and for tactical decision-making on that sector. Losing a regiment by letting them walk into an ambush at that stage in the war would not be acceptable.

Assuming the producers did their historical research, and there is every sign that they went beyond extrapolating from old Blackadders, then they'd know Britain was having great difficulty getting fresh men any more. Losing troops was a vastly bigger concern than it may have been in 1915. The transition from trench warfare to a war of movement was still being worked out, and is actually shown very well in the film.
  #111  
Old 02-01-2020, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Elmer J. Fudd View Post
BTW, another common way of sending a message like that in WWI was by pigeon.
Sure, but that was by releasing the pigeon from the front to go back to its home. That wouldn't work to send a message forward to troops in newly captured terrain.
  #112  
Old 02-01-2020, 07:52 PM
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The issue of the planes not being Firth's to command had not occurred to me, though it admittedly makes a great deal of sense.
True, but again, the planes are flying over that terrain and doing recon work, then communicating to the Army. There is obviously some degree of coordination.
  #113  
Old 02-01-2020, 07:57 PM
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I haven’t seen the movie yet, so maybe this is a dumb comment, but is it possible any airfield would be further for the runners to carry the message to than the nearby battalion? Based on the OP description the telegraph wires are cut so the group of soldiers that know about the trap would have to hand deliver The info wherever it ends up going. Weren’t airfields typically miles behind the trecnches?
There were communication trenches stretching back from the front lines to areas away from the immediate combat. There were horses and vehicles in the back area. Sending a messenger away from the fighting, towards vehicle transport, to get a message to the aerodrome, seems a logical approach, less risky for the success of the mission than sending two messengers into the war zone, knowing that there are enemy soldiers trying to surround the battalion and prevent communications.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 02-01-2020 at 08:01 PM.
  #114  
Old 02-01-2020, 08:00 PM
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Also, flying over the front was by no means safe, and I don't recall reading about air-dropping messages very much at all. Remember that aviation was still in it's infancy, and commanders didn't really have a good idea of what to do with it. Aircraft were primarily used for reconnaissance, and the fighter plane's priority were recon planes, both attacking the enemy's and protecting your own.
During the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917, there was close coordination between the RFC and the Canadian Corps to relay information back from the front to let headquarters know how well the attack was progressing. Colour signals were used.

Last edited by Northern Piper; 02-01-2020 at 08:01 PM.
  #115  
Old 02-02-2020, 01:13 AM
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... Sending a messenger away from the fighting, towards vehicle transport, to get a message to the aerodrome, seems a logical approach, less risky for the success of the mission than sending two messengers into the war zone, knowing that there are enemy soldiers trying to surround the battalion and prevent communications.
But that would not have helped at all. Colonel Cumberpatch was planning to do exactly what his standing orders were - to take the fight up to the Germans and keep the Hun on the run ['They don't like it up 'em, sir' I've been reliably informed].

General Firth's order was to tell them to NOT do what they thought they should be doing.

A message sent from the front reading 'Guess what we're doing at sunrise ...?' would have been a Bad Thing.
  #116  
Old 02-05-2020, 12:50 AM
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If this was a realistic movie about WWI, they could have relayed the message to the battalion by shouting it. Even after a major advance, they would only be about fifty yards away.
When the 2 soldiers are getting ready to leave for the mission, one says that they have to travel 9 miles.
  #117  
Old 02-05-2020, 01:23 PM
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When the 2 soldiers are getting ready to leave for the mission, one says that they have to travel 9 miles.
I wouldnít be surprised if thatís true (either that they say that, that they could cover that in 2 hours with the help of a convoy, or both), but what it comes back to is the contrivance ofóin trench warfareó1600 soldiers somehow being completely detached from the rest of the trench line. Who was on their left? Their right? This story would have us believe that they were all on their own, when the reality of trench warfare is that they couldnít possibly have been. I might be tempted to assume that they had already advanced some miles after the retreating Germans, but then why did they bother to dig in again just prior to their last push?

Itís a contrivance essential to the plot, which in a lesser film might have made it the point of departure for a long-winded critique of the film. But as it stands, the rest of it is good enough in my view to give it a pass.

FWIW, the story that this is supposed to have been based on seems much more plausible: a few companies sent forward to scout out recently vacated German positions, and needing a runner to carry information between them and HQ, to keep HQ abreast of their progress and make sure they hadnít gotten surrounded and wiped out by a surprise German turnaround.

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  #118  
Old 02-05-2020, 01:29 PM
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A similar problem exists in Saving Private Ryan. After seeing that movie, my dad, ETO combat veteran, said, ďWe had radios.Ē
  #119  
Old 02-05-2020, 02:45 PM
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I might be tempted to assume that they had already advanced some miles after the retreating Germans, but then why did they bother to dig in again just prior to their last push?
Why assume they dug in as opposed to using an existing trench? Could be that the front line used to be there some months or years ago. Or maybe the Germans had dug the trench in anticipation of using it to defend against a future invasion over the river.
  #120  
Old 02-05-2020, 02:58 PM
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Expanding previous message


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... that they could cover (9 miles) in 2 hours with the help of a convoy...
Let me expand on my previous message.

Their instructions were for the 2 soldiers to travel by foot by themselves. The officer said something like, ďhe travels best who travels alone.Ē If that doesnít make sense, many decisions in WW1 didnít make much sense.

After receiving their orders and before leaving the base, they said it was about 9 miles and they should be able to get there in 6 hours. Obvious spoiler: it took longer.
  #121  
Old 02-05-2020, 03:55 PM
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Why assume they dug in as opposed to using an existing trench? Could be that the front line used to be there some months or years ago. Or maybe the Germans had dug the trench in anticipation of using it to defend against a future invasion over the river.
One of the reasons trench warfare in WWI was so intractable was that you really couldn't defend trenches once you've captured them. Trenches were designed so that they were difficult to enter from the direction of the front, but relatively accessible from the rear, so that it would be easier to move men and material around. Both sides would frequently manage to capture a section of enemy trench, only to be pushed out almost immediately by a counterattack.
  #122  
Old 02-05-2020, 03:58 PM
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other thing that bugged me was he meets a baby who needs milk. And he just happens to have milk!
  #123  
Old 02-05-2020, 04:00 PM
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Let me expand on my previous message.

Their instructions were for the 2 soldiers to travel by foot by themselves. The officer said something like, ďhe travels best who travels alone.Ē If that doesnít make sense, many decisions in WW1 didnít make much sense.

After receiving their orders and before leaving the base, they said it was about 9 miles and they should be able to get there in 6 hours. Obvious spoiler: it took longer.
Well, yeah. Because the guy was passed out/knocked unconscious for several hours. If your point is that the general's reasoning for only sending two messengers was dubious, then I agree. Clearly he wanted our protagonists (and the viewers) to see that the stakes were high, that if the hero didnít make it then no one would. Itís more of the same contrived, but forgivable (to me), setup to the story. It might be more realistic to tell our heroes that theyíre but two of many messengers, and to just rely on the "oh by the way, your brother's life is on the line" subplot to inject some drama into it, but I think it would have been weaker if heíd done so.

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Why assume they dug in as opposed to using an existing trench? Could be that the front line used to be there some months or years ago. Or maybe the Germans had dug the trench in anticipation of using it to defend against a future invasion over the river.
I donít assume they dug in. I assume thatís where they always were (or at least had been for a while), and were about to advance from, which sets up the problem of how could they not be reached from their own trench lines, which ought to join with the trenches occupied by adjacent formations?

The alternative(s), that or was either dug long ago and unused, or recently abandoned by the Germans, doesnít really work either. If it was derelict, I wouldnít expect it to look so fresh/clean. Iíd expect some erosion from the usual wind/rain that would tend to wear away at an unmaintened earthen structure. If anything, it looks much cleaner/trimmer than the trenches our protagonists leave at the beginning of the movie. If it was recently dug but then abandoned by the Germans, then... why does it have slits cut into it to access it from what would have been their own front? Itís backwards.

As Iíve said, I understand why all of these choices in setting and premise make sense from a storytelling perspective, and I can forgive it because the story's good, so please donít take this as too harsh a criticism of the film if you liked it too.

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other thing that bugged me was he meets a baby who needs milk. And he just happens to have milk!
Well, yeah, but he was at a farm and it made sense that he had it given that he was at a farm and had recently used up all his water. Itís a coincidence, sure, but not a huge contrivance IMHO. What I was more scratching my head about was that he lingered there at all, given that he had no idea how long he had been out for, but definitely had a message to carry to save 1600 gives. Had he not spent those precious minutes playing dad, he might have made it to the trench in time to save the first wave from going over. Men died so that he could have that moment, and he had to have known that was at stake.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 02-05-2020 at 04:03 PM.
  #124  
Old 02-05-2020, 04:19 PM
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wasn't quite sure why he got knocked out when he shot the German?
  #125  
Old 02-05-2020, 04:34 PM
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wasn't quite sure why he got knocked out when he shot the German?
Didn't he fall down the stairs and hit his head?
  #126  
Old 02-05-2020, 04:56 PM
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I guess he did hit his head
  #127  
Old 02-05-2020, 07:56 PM
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other thing that bugged me was he meets a baby who needs milk. And he just happens to have milk!
Having milk didn't bother me. As soon as he filled his canteen with milk I knew it was Chekov's milk. But...

The milk was fresh. Who milked the cow?
  #128  
Old 02-05-2020, 11:07 PM
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Having milk didn't bother me. As soon as he filled his canteen with milk I knew it was Chekov's milk. But...

The milk was fresh. Who milked the cow?
Probably the civilians that the retreating Germans brutally massacred off-screen. Fair or not, thatís the kind of vibe I got from how the Germans were depicted in this film.
  #129  
Old 02-06-2020, 01:25 AM
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Probably the civilians that the retreating Germans brutally massacred off-screen. Fair or not, thatís the kind of vibe I got from how the Germans were depicted in this film.
Why "the" civilians? We didn't see any dead civilians near the farm, did we?
  #130  
Old 02-06-2020, 02:14 AM
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I'm pretty sure the Allied general who issues the order to the two soldiers says something to the effect of "Before retreating the Germans cut our lines", implying this isn't some field wire across no man's land the advancing battalion laid out, but the actual field communications behind the Allied trench system. I'd have to watch again to be certain though.
There are the exact words that General Erinmore uses to Blake and Schofield, from the script:

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The 2nd are due to attack the [Hindenburg] line shortly after dawn tomorrow. They have no idea what they are in for. And we canít warn them - as a parting gift, the enemy cut all our telephone lines.
My emphasis. This is a giant plot hole. As a parting gift, the enemy cut all our lines. QED.
  #131  
Old 02-06-2020, 02:26 AM
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There are the exact words that General Erinmore uses to Blake and Schofield, from the script:
Interesting. Where'd you get a copy of the script?
  #132  
Old 02-06-2020, 02:27 AM
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BTW, another common way of sending a message like that in WWI was by pigeon.
Yes, but only the other way around. You can have frontline soldiers send pidges from wherever to home back to their trained roost(s) at HQ ; you can't dispatch pigeons towards the latest front hotspot because the pigeon doesn't know what that is.

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How come they won the war, then?
They didn't. The Germans merely happened to lose it even faster.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:29 AM
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Ah, reading further it appears Northern Piper had already addressed the bird issue. Which of course they would have. Apologies.
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:35 AM
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Ah, reading further it appears Northern Piper had already addressed the bird issue. Which of course they would have. Apologies.
What am I, chopped liver?
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:45 AM
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A similar problem exists in Saving Private Ryan. After seeing that movie, my dad, ETO combat veteran, said, ďWe had radios.Ē
That didn't really help the thousands of paratroopers who got completely lost all over Normandy the night before ; and that's even without getting shot down and having a (relatively) orderly drop.
A ton of small scale actions were undertaken by ad hoc groups of guys from like seven different units who'd bumbled into each other in the middle of the night and kind of made a go of it while trying to figure out where the hell everyone else had landed. Quoth wiki :

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At the end of D-Day, Gen. Taylor and his assistant division commander (ADC) Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe returned from their foray at Pouppeville. Taylor had control of approximately 2,500 of his 6,600 men, most of whom were in the vicinity of the 506th CP at Culoville, with the thin defense line west of Saint Germain-du-Varreville, or the division reserve at Blosville.
(Gen. Taylor was the guy in charge of the 101st AD ; Ryan's division). Meaning 4,000 odd dudes were still out there, unaccounted for. Plenty simply dead of course, but mostly just... "certainly somewhere, sir".

So a small group of random paras stuck in the middle of The Suck without one working radio among them doesn't really ping my "well ain't that awfully convenient" radar.
  #136  
Old 02-06-2020, 10:22 AM
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Why "the" civilians? We didn't see any dead civilians near the farm, did we?
Not that I recall, but there was a dead dog on the front yard and it seemed fairly "fresh" to me. Unless the farm family fled without their dog (unlikely, while the cows can't run too far or ride in a wagon, a dog can), they were still there when the Germans came and shot the dog and most of the cows, trashed the orchard, etc.

Which reminds me: one of the characters (I think one of the soldiers on the truck) mentions that the cows were machine-gunned. How did the Germans manage to miss the surviving cow with a machine-gun?
  #137  
Old 02-06-2020, 12:05 PM
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Why "the" civilians? We didn't see any dead civilians near the farm, did we?
It’s merely an interpolation, based on the hero’s reaction to the scene at the farm house being somewhat ominous, and that this film didn’t seem particularly interested in portraying anything like “honor on both sides.” Not that I’m particularly upset by the depiction of the Germans, just noting that this film defeated from the customary trope of treating war as an atrocity of generals and leaders, while showing “common soldiers” to vary little across national boundaries. Here we had a clear and unambiguous villain (the German army) that did villainous things without exception and a clear and unambiguous hero with a noble quest. There were shades of gray along the way, but not where the main hero and the main villain were concerned.

But I digress.

I assume if the Germans had been milking the cow, they would have taken the fruits of their labor with them since it was a planned withdrawal rather than a forced retreat under fire.

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Old 02-06-2020, 01:51 PM
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Interesting. Where'd you get a copy of the script?
Available via variety.com.
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Old 02-07-2020, 08:55 AM
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Based on what I've seen and understand about the British military of that time period, part of what makes this so bizarre is that the General himself is talking to the very junior enlisted men. That was probably extremely unlikely in that era, or even today.

Instead, an order to have runners go to notify Cumberbatch's battalion to call off the attack would have been issued, and probably a company commander would grab two guys (or tell his Sgt. Major to) and send them off with the message for Cumberbatch.

So from the perspective of the two main characters, they'd have got orders from their own officer or senior NCO and be sent to go do the same job. Which I suspect wouldn't have been as dramatic, but would have obscured a lot of the plot holes. And might have even allowed for some Fog of War type discussion among them about what exactly was going on.
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Old 02-07-2020, 09:35 AM
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So from the perspective of the two main characters, they'd have got orders from their own officer or senior NCO and be sent to go do the same job. Which I suspect wouldn't have been as dramatic, but would have obscured a lot of the plot holes. And might have even allowed for some Fog of War type discussion among them about what exactly was going on.
I’m with you, and I’m not. I mean, if this film were meant as a strictly realistic and historical portrayal of WWI, then I think your point would hold, but I believe (more and more as I think it over) that this film is more concerned with being a realistic portrayal of a story from WWI than of WWI itself.

Which explains (to me) the unmitigated villainy of the Germans, the interspersing of clear/recognizable set pieces within an otherwise uncut/seamless narrative, and even the at times head-scratching nature of time and space which I myself have brought up more than once.

What do people do when they tell a story and want to embellish a little (or a lot) to make it worth listening to? The Captain who told the lance corporal that the Colonel told him the General needed a couple of runners to go back and forth between a couple of companies becomes "The General called me into his command post and told me that if my mate and I didn’t get this message through the lines, a whole regiment would be cut down the next morning." You and I? We’re like that guy in back, where one guy is telling the story, and he’s got the audience captivated with his oral storytelling technique, and we're sticking our hands up going...

"Wait a minute, you mean to say the General called you in and told you himself?"
"Wait a minute, you mean to say there was a whole regiment—and only a regiment—somehow alone and unsupported on the other side of the old German lines, and they didn’t get cut off and obliterated already?"

And so on. Dubious history, questionable geography, brilliant representation of a soldier's story, drawn out to feature length, plot holes and all. They're the sort of plot holes most such stories, akin to urban legends, would have. They fit within what I believe to be the genre.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 02-07-2020 at 09:36 AM.
  #141  
Old 02-07-2020, 09:48 AM
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Based on what I've seen and understand about the British military of that time period, part of what makes this so bizarre is that the General himself is talking to the very junior enlisted men. That was probably extremely unlikely in that era, or even today.

Instead, an order to have runners go to notify Cumberbatch's battalion to call off the attack would have been issued, and probably a company commander would grab two guys (or tell his Sgt. Major to) and send them off with the message for Cumberbatch.

So from the perspective of the two main characters, they'd have got orders from their own officer or senior NCO and be sent to go do the same job. Which I suspect wouldn't have been as dramatic, but would have obscured a lot of the plot holes. And might have even allowed for some Fog of War type discussion among them about what exactly was going on.
Also, the fact that they chose for the mission probably the one guy who had a vested interest in seeing the message get through (because his brother was in that group). Of course, any soldier would have been expected to do the job, because that's what they're there for. But adding that element and having the order come directly from the general falls under dramatic license.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 02-07-2020 at 09:49 AM.
  #142  
Old 02-07-2020, 10:26 AM
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..

Instead, an order to have runners go to notify Cumberbatch's battalion to call off the attack would have been issued, and probably a company commander would grab two guys (or tell his Sgt. Major to) and send them off with the message for Cumberbatch.

...
Joke:

In Sandhurst one year they thought of a interesting final exam. Each cadet was given a sitrep: "You have a rifle company of 80 men with a 60mm mortar , two light machine guns, and a sergeant major. The enemy has 40 men , dug in on a hill. What orders do you issue to take that hill?"

All the cadets but one came up with scenarios with suppressing fire, flanking, and so forth.

Only one cadet came up with the correct answer: "sergeant major- take that hill!"
  #143  
Old 02-07-2020, 11:20 AM
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Only one cadet came up with the correct answer: "sergeant major- take that hill!"
"Sir!" said the Sergeant Major as he obediently snapped to an attention and offered up a salute.

The cadet then stiffened and raised his hand in reply, but was felled by an enemy sniper, bullet through the temple.

"Alright, lads," said the Sergeant Major, turning to his men, "have a spot of tea, and when itís done weíll call in for another officer, one who knows his business. If anyone asks, we tried to take the hill and were repulsedóhe was the only casualty."
  #144  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:26 PM
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I think a lot of you are grossly misusing the concept of a plot hole. This is a fairly common mistake.

A plot hole is not “I can think up a better way they could’ve done this” or “their plan was sub-optimal”

Using runners to deliver messages in WW1 was extremely common. Using planes to that effect was uncommon. It is not only completely plausible that a mission like this would’ve been assigned, but a novel solution like air dropping it would’ve been the unusual scenario that required special set up.

Additionally, this movie is very much explicitly told from the perspective of a couple of low rank enlisted men. We are only shown their perspective. For all we know, in the general’s tent before we got there there could have been a discussion about how to best deliver the message. Maybe they did consider air dropping it, or trying to find a unit in the area with a radio, or some other method. Maybe there were perfectly good reasons to rule them out. Since we only see what the grunts see, there’s no way to know.

Additionally, maybe they actually are trying to reach the attacking force via other methods, but feel as though using multiple methods would yield better results. They wouldn’t necessarily tell that to the runners, to impress upon them the importance in their part in all this and motivate them.

You guys are vastly underestimating the complexity of running an army of millions of men. Organizing them and keeping them all on the same page is enormously complex. Communications are broken all the time. Even today, you can have two military units right next to each other who can’t talk to each other because they’re not part of the same chain of command and have incompatible radios or some similar reasons, let alone a hundred years ago. Armies at war are enormously complex beasts and WW1 was extremely early for a lot of modern communication methods and techniques.

The process of getting recon from planes and then disturbing that recon, acting on it, and then communicating with random moving unit on the attack is way more complex than you think. There are chains of command and communication that dictate the use of assets like airplanes. The general we saw may have first have had to contact a general up his chain of command who could then contact someone who liaisons with those planes who could then send the message to those planes who could then use rudimentary air navigation skills to try to find a unit they can’t communicate with to drop orders that might land in no mans land or get lost in the mud. Or shot down or even just driven off along the way. In no way is that a trivial mission to arrange and pull off. And depending on how many command chains you had to through, and what the status of the communications at the rear were, it may not even be faster.

Sending runners may have been the best plan available, or only plan available. Or maybe he did try both, but our grunts think there the only method as to increase their motivation to complete the mission. So no, this isn’t even remotely close to being a plot hole, and it may have even been the best plan given the constraints.
  #145  
Old 02-07-2020, 03:33 PM
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I think a lot of you are grossly misusing the concept of a plot hole. This is a fairly common mistake.
So you're saying, then, that this thread is one giant plot hole?
  #146  
Old 02-07-2020, 04:27 PM
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Just saw the movie so only looked at this thread now. Frankly, I did not read all the posts but wonder if anyone has mentioned the following.

Sure, a plane could have dropped the order to stop the attack, but as Mark Strong's Captain Smith warned, some commanders, desperate for glory, want the action for its own sake - 'orders be damned!' He told Lance Corporal Schofield to be certain that his delivery of the order and its contents were witnessed. Otherwise they might well be ignored.

If a plane dropped the orders, the dropped package might be considered "too difficult to retrieve". Or, brought back to the commander who then files it in the fire.

Bottom line is that only a witnessed, in-person delivery of the order would be sure to be carried out.

Last edited by KarlGauss; 02-07-2020 at 04:29 PM.
  #147  
Old 02-09-2020, 08:04 PM
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Saw this movie this weekend and enjoyed it very much. Since this thread has evolved into a general chat about the movie and WWI tactics, I've got a question.

SPOILER:
Since Scoffield has completed his mission, what does he do? He is separated from his unit by some distance and his unit has likely moved by now anyway. The enemy still has elements operating between his current position and wherever his actual unit is operating. Asking him to head back from whence he came seems a bit unreasonable. The movie ends with him leaning against a tree. So, to whom does he report? Is he formally transferred to another command? Does he wait until his old unit catches up to him?


In a more general sense, how does an army in the field keep track of its assets and personnel in the fluidity of battle?
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  #148  
Old 02-10-2020, 12:56 AM
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In the real world? The more cynical part of me thinks he gets court-martialed, tied to a post, and shot for throwing away his rifle. A very serious offense, don’t you know?

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 02-10-2020 at 12:56 AM.
  #149  
Old 02-10-2020, 01:51 AM
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In the real world? The more cynical part of me thinks he gets court-martialed, tied to a post, and shot for throwing away his rifle. A very serious offense, donít you know?
True story : a French soldier was put up against the wall in 1915 for "defeatism" and "insubordination" for refusing to wear the pair of torn, bloodsoaked trousers he'd been issued that had evidently been taken off a dead body - he'd initially been convicted to 8 days in prison, but his regiment commander decided he needed an example for the fresh recruits, and happened to be both judge and prosecutor at the court martial.
Yeah.
  #150  
Old 02-10-2020, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Drum God View Post
Saw this movie this weekend and enjoyed it very much. Since this thread has evolved into a general chat about the movie and WWI tactics, I've got a question.

SPOILER:
Since Scoffield has completed his mission, what does he do? He is separated from his unit by some distance and his unit has likely moved by now anyway. The enemy still has elements operating between his current position and wherever his actual unit is operating. Asking him to head back from whence he came seems a bit unreasonable. The movie ends with him leaning against a tree. So, to whom does he report? Is he formally transferred to another command? Does he wait until his old unit catches up to him?


In a more general sense, how does an army in the field keep track of its assets and personnel in the fluidity of battle?
SPOILER:

I haven't seen the movie, but it sure sounds like the mission he was sent on was to move laterally from one battalion/regiment, to another nearby one to warn them to call off their attack, presumably because that was faster than sending a guy from regimental HQ.

So once he's done, he could go backward to the rear, and once back in relative safety, make his way back to his own unit. There's probably a regimental headquarters that he can go back to, and they'll direct him to his regimental HQ, who will point him to his battalion, and they'll point him to his company, who'll point him to his buddies in the line.
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