London (AFP) – The director of Brad Pitt’s new movie has apologized after filming battle scenes with actors dressed as Nazis in an English village on Remembrance Sunday.
U.S. writer-director David Ayer tweeted on Monday: “My heartfelt apologies for any disrespect on Remembrance Day. I am a veteran myself. It is an honor to film here in the UK.”
The crew working on the film, “Fury”, had staged explosions in the early hours and acted out battles on Sunday in rural Oxfordshire while Britain held ceremonies and services remembering the country’s war dead.
The action prompted a local backlash, with Watlington parish council chairman Ian Hill saying: “Whoever is responsible is insensitive.”
“A letter has been sent to express our feelings of how inappropriate it was for Sherman tanks to be rolling across the countryside while explosions were being let off. Local people are very angry.”
The team behind the film, which also stars Shia Labeouf and Logan Lerman, sent out letters last month warning locals in and around Shirburn, Oxfordshire, to expect gunfire and explosions.
The World War II thriller features Pitt as the commander of a tank on a perilous mission behind enemy lines.
Ayer has tweeted a series of fiery pictures of filming, including an entire house in flames and scenes of the mud-covered tank surrounded by explosions.
Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said the decision to film was “grossly insensitive”.
“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,” he told the Mirror newspaper.
“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.”
Remembrance Sunday began as a commemoration of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918, with poppies worn in a reference to those that grew on the battlefields and graveyards of that war.
It now honors British and Commonwealth veterans and war dead from both World Wars and later conflicts.