For at least one English village, it ended up being a Remembrance Sunday to forget as the normally quiet and somber day was wrecked with explosions and gunfire -- courtesy of an American filmmaker.
All of the chaos came from the production of "Fury," the new World War II film starring Brad Pitt and directed by David Ayer ("End of Watch"). Ayer and his crew -- along with about a hundred British extras -- rocked the area in and around Shirburn, Oxon at 4 a.m. on Sunday with a large-scale battle scene, according to UK website The Mirror.
Normally it would be exciting to have movie starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman shooting on location, even if it was a bit loud and in the middle of the night. But Ayer angered and insulted locals by having his war film shoot on Remembrance Sunday, the second Sunday in November on which the UK celebrates the end of hostilities of World War I (on Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m.), a day "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts."
The cast and crew of "Fury" observed the day by having British extras dressed as Nazi soldiers, "rampaging over fields," as described by The Mirror. Ayer has, not surprisingly, received some backlash after ignoring pleas to halt filming out of respect for the day -- most notably from his own cast.
"It's not as if he didn't know that for many of us, Remembrance Sunday is the most important day of the year," said one extra. "Instead of toasting our forebears whose bravery gave us this life we were charging through the countryside dressed as marauding Nazis."
"This was grotesquely disrespectful and offensive. I can't believe I wore an SS uniform on Remembrance Sunday," said another.
Ian Hill, chairman of Watlington Parish Council, which neighbors the film set, voiced his frustrations to the International Business Times: "I do not think it was a good time to be filming," Hill said. "There is a lot of sensitivity around Remembrance Weekend and the filmmakers should have been aware of that. It's very unfortunate for people living nearby that they were filming during the night on any day."
Ayer has received criticism from British authority figures as well, with Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, saying, "At the very time a nation pays tribute to those who gave their lives to stop Nazis rampaging across our land it seems grossly insensitive to impose such scenes on villagers. A director whose film is profiting from the sacrifices made by 800,000 British and American soldiers in the Second World War has a duty to ensure his crew are allowed to pause to pay proper respect to the dead."
A regretful Ayer, who is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, took to Twitter this morning to apologize to those British civilians, servicemen and cast members upset with the film's shoot.
My heartfelt apologies for any disrespect on Remembrance Day. I am a veteran myself. It is an honor to film here in the UK.
— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies) November 11, 2013
This isn't the first time that David Ayer has been in hot water with the British. Back in 2000, Prime Minister Tony Blair called his screenplay for "U-571" an "affront" for portraying the capture of a Nazi Enigma coding machine as a US operation when in reality it was seized by the crew of England's HMS Bulldog.
Remembrance Sunday is traditionally honored by wearing a poppy, inspired by World War I poem "In Flanders Fields." The poem's opening lines refer to the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers' graves in Flanders, a region of Europe that overlies parts of Belgium and France:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
The day has been honored more respectfully by Hollywood personalities over the years, such as in 2010 at the London premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1," at which Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson wore 'poppy pins.'
And Superman himself, Henry Cavill, wore a poppy on his mighty chest at Yahoo!'s own "Man of Steel" Live Q&A Fan Event this weekend.
"Fury," which depicts the crew of U.S. Sherman tank taking on a German division in a seemingly hopeless battle, is scheduled to hit theaters on Nov. 14, 2014 -- five days after next year's Remembrance Sunday.