This picture has been shared online claiming to show the exact moment an Axis sniper who has been shot falls from a tower during a battle somewhere in Italy in 1944.
It does not.
Yes, someone on the internet is wrong, again…
I’ve had a rather unusual and diverse career, for a while I’ve worked in the film and television business, I was a director, writer but also worked as a set designer, historical consultant and I’ve even been a stunt woman for a very short time.
Not long enough to claim to be an expert on the stunt world or that I know much besides the few things I got to experience myself, but when I saw this photo I saw something I recognised from my time in this line of business.
What we see here is not a limp body falling in a natural way but someone falling in such a way that they are sure to land on their back.
What I also couldn’t help but noticing is that the spot where our sniper is going to land is obscured by rubble, in most movies this is the case, now you know, you will probably notice it a lot more.
This is of course because we’re not allowed to see that behind this rubble there is a pile of boxes, mattresses and these days airbags.
Spotting these two things made me suspicious of the photo.
On top of that I also didn’t recall ever seeing the photo before, as a historian specialised in the 1930s and 1940s I’ve seen countless WW2 photos and although I’ve of course not seen them all and of course there are a lot of photos I’ve not seen, I am still a bit surprised to see a photo that is so sensational but that somehow managed to have been kept out of countless books.
If this was not a genuine WW2 photo there were only a few other options left to explain it, the most likely being that this was related to a war movie.
It didn’t take me long to find it.
Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find the actual movie online, I don’t live in the US but if you do, you can probably watch it.
Here is a clip of the scene;
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