on July 19, 2013
Saving Private Ryan is about a band of brothers who give up their own lives to save the life of a single soldier in the chaos of war. The Controlling Idea, that brotherhood is worth dying for, is well told and thematically supported. The contradictory notion of risking the lives of many to save the few resonates well with the idea of war in general: that the values of freedom, family and human rights are ideals worth dying for: even if these values are preserved only for a few survivors. The hope is the survivors (and the viewers) can go on to live a good life and treasure their freedoms that others died to protect. The question is that in a democracy where human rights and freedoms are valued, why would anyone in their right mind choose to sacrifice their life and limb? The answer: these soldiers choose to do it to protect a brother, and these armies choose to do it to protect the basic human rights of the citizens of fellow nations. This seems to suggest that the very fabric of democratic society rests on the fundamental respect for each other and the rights of others and that these rights and freedoms are ideals that much be protected to the death.
Great film told with what I count to be three major external plots: to save Ryan, to win the war and to save the lives of the men. The lives of the men are lost to achieve the first two. Thus proving the Controlling Idea that brotherhood is worth dying for.
My major complaint is the film is too long. Three hours is a long time and the episodes of peace are not so interesting since not much relationship or personal development takes place. The brothers are "good" from beginning to end and their relationships are "good" from beginning to end. Of course there are minor plotlines like Opum's compassion for POWs and Reiben's questioning of Miller's judgement. But they don't create serious turning points in an otherwise external-action focused story. I think the story would look substantially the same if you cut out the middle: the Carparso dying to save a French child, the radar assault that loses Wade and the church resting.
My Story Chart of the movie is at storycharts.ca
on December 14, 1999
Only The Naked and the Dead and The Triumph and the Glory can approach Speilberg's masterpiece for ultra-realistic depictions of combat and sacrifice in WWII. The only (very,very minor)flaw in the film was casting Ted Danson in it. To me he will always be Sam Malone, and ONLY Sam Malone (of Cheers). The scenes he was in broke up the flow of the story a little for me. But hey, great performances from Tom Hanks and the rather unknown cast of the squad, and of course immense praise for the realism of the movie.
on March 3, 2003
Spielberg has done it again. Sound familiar. Yes, but this film, Private Ryan is one of his best he has made. The film opens with the bloody DDAY battle that left me with my mind boggled and my mouth open. The sounds and visions of the battle are so realistic you think you are there fighting alongside the soldiers. It made feel glad to be an American after the scene. To finish things off, you must see this film if you haven't already. I can't believe Tom Hanks didn't win Best Actor for his role as Captain Miller.
I have watched 'Saving Private Ryan' about five times, and not once has it failed to bring tears to my eyes. Of course, that's me because I am intimately interested in World War 2 history, and any good story from those frontlines can make me emotional. The other reason is that Cornelius Ryan's epic novel on D-Day, 'The Longest Day' was the first artifact of war I had to contend with when I was in school. The story inspired me so much that time that I will never ever forget the 101st US Airborne Division. The interesting thing about Saving Private Ryan- one may ask, why so much ado about saving one man? Many people thought that the movie was unrealistic because the mission was unrealistic, not to mention logistically wasteful; six men putting their lives at stake for one man, just because he is the last of his brothers to be living. I superficially agree with these critics, and I am sure that there must have been hundreds, if not thousands of mothers, who lost all their sons in the war. So why all the jazz about the mission, the man, and the movie?
The answer comes during a poignant scene when Captain John H Miller (Tom Hanks) explains it all. Quite simply, he says that the mission might sound ludicrous, but the fact is that he won't feel like going home to his wife if he doesn't complete it. For me, that's the reason the movie was made, to show how every mission and the most mundane of objectives fits in with the big picture. It's important to realise that without these 'mundane' objectives getting fulfilled, the big picture holds no promise at all. If the men and women who are entrusted with them don't hold them up in front of their soul, the struggle is as good as lost, in peacetime and in wartime. In my opinion, it's much more than merely following orders. We see this quality in the bravest people in history, many of whose stories won't be ever heard because they sacrificed their lives for freedom. For me, the movie is most interesting because it brings up the eternal conundrum of war (and peace): how does one man's life compare with the 'greater good' of society? But for people like John Miller, it was not a conundrum, but a simple duty, the failure to fulfil which would have made them feel unsatisfied throughout life. That the secondary school grammar teacher from rural Pennsylvania, wrenched from his simple life and thrown into the enforced throes of war, comes to terms with this conundrum, is as sobering and inspiring as anything can be.
My favourite scene? Just before the last battle, Miller and Ryan (Matt Damon) are reliving some of their memories. Ryan recalls a boisterous and hilarious situation with his brothers. Miller says that his wife used to say something about the rose garden. But when Ryan asks him to tell him that story, Miller says, 'No...I think I will keep that one for myself'. It's as if he knows that he is going to die, and wants to preserve one last shrad of private memory of his wife with him.
At this point, I suddenly remember one of my favourite quotes by T. S. Eliot. The quote is applicable to many of the central themes in human life, and certainly to one as soul searching as war and peace:
"We shall not cease to explore,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started,
and know the place for the first time"
No matter how many times we tell the story of war, it should never, ever, become a cliche.
on May 31, 2000
I read into this movie much like I did Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List"; framing a World War II story from a Jewish perspective. "List" was more obvious than "Saving Private Ryan," but some of the major themes carried over, and two of them were:
1. The Holocaust ... Adam Goldberg's character was the Jewish member of the Ranger unit assigned to find Private Ryan. In a montage of scenes toward the end of the film, when a million things seem to be happening at once, Goldberg's character and a Nazi soldier physically fight each other, by themselves, apart from their comrades, and it seems, from the world around them, that they are alone. The Jew dies, but not with a gunshot would (like how many of the war's soldiers fell to), but a knife to the heart. I found this symbolism extraodinarily disturbing, yet effective in the way that within a matter of seconds, the destruction of European Jewry was played out on film.
2. Disbelieving the truth ... Jeremy Davies' character was not an original member of the unit sent on the movie's unique mission. Instead, like the United States, he joins after the fighting and killing of WW II have already begun. That was part one of Davies' symbolism, but part two symbolized the majority of people in Europe (and, indeed, around the world) during World War II who did nothing to help their Jewish neighbors and countrymen. In a scene that takes place at the same time as Goldberg's character is being killed, the Davies' character is curled-up -- almost in the fetal position -- unable to face the realities of war around him, and unable to move one way or another; a neutral between two sides, the Nazi who killed the Jew walks right by the newcomer barely pausing in notice of him.
Indeed, there are many ways of pointing out the greatness of this film. It will be appreciated and understood by anyone who chooses to do so.
on May 3, 2010
It has been reported in the UK and the U.S. that a lip synch problem occurs starting in chapter 15. Review at [...] and in Saving Private Ryan thread indicates it does not occur on all discs. It is being investigated by Paramount. If you have this issue you may want to contact Paramount.
on November 17, 2006
I first saw this movie as a rental, in the comfort of my own living room, with a modest stereo system for the sound. I could not have imagined, then or now, the effect of the big screen of a theatre. The opening 20 minutes are as real and gutt-wrenching as any I've ever seen. Steven Ambrose stated that WWII vets of D-DAY said they never thought they'd see their efforts portrayed on film with such stunning reality. Some openly wept at a special screening. Still others purposefully left their seats for the refuge of the lobby. Old wounds re-opened. While the individual personalities of the search squad present a mixture of pragmatism and stubborness, at various moments and, in the climactic battle, they individualy show us their deep dedication to their mission, their unit and, most of all, their brothers. I am seldom at a loss for words but this is an exception. My emotions rumble within me whenever I view this movie, and how I wish I could meet one of the men today, just to shake his hand, look him in the eye and say "thank you, sir." If you have never seen this film, boy, how I envy you! You are in for an experience that may be life-changing. I will close with this thought. Somewhere, there is a similar story, though not necessarily a like-minded plot, concerning the soldiers of WWI. These were men too, Germans, French, Belgians and Americans. They had homes in the country, grew up on farms, had moms who worked at local hospitals and taught literature to high school students. Perhaps some day, Spielberg, or someone almost as good, will tell their story as well, because after all the parades, after all the saluting, after all the political maneuvering, war is still, and always has been, about the duty, honor and valor of the man at arms. So, to any of you who actually may have been at Omaha Beach, Anzio or Iwo Jima, I say to you, sirs, God Bless You, and, to your fallen comrades, don eis requiem, sempiternam.
on October 4, 2004
I came to see Spielberg's film without expecting anything special or groundbraking but the movie is without a doubt the best war film ever made, even though some expert critics disagree in favor of older films. Spielberg did an excellent work giving the full sense of battle horror and, in my opinion, he achieved the top mark in war movies combining some really fantastic abilities: he filmed most of the battle scenes from behind the shooters, he never used an immobile or standing camera, he had terrific sound effects of the weapons and the sounds of battle, he took extra care to trivial details like uniforms, hair cutting, weapons, sweat, blood etc., he presented German (and Waffen SS soldiers in particular) in a marvelously authentic way, he built his story with an excellent pace and he communicated the real stress and nerve racking of close combat to the people who never had to live through this experience. Most critics praise the initial 20 minutes of the film, when the Normandy landings are realistically presented in the infamous "Omaha" beach, and although I agree that this is the best landing sequence ever put to film, I think that it is unfair to underestimate the last climactic battle of the movie in the half destroyed French village, where the agony of the uneven struggle against a numerically superior and fanatical enemy (and far better armed with the full panoply of war tools) makes a real war thriller. The fans of military history will find no better war movie and no other screen spectacle better manipulated than this one, created by the "magician" Spielberg at his prime.
on March 3, 2000
First of all i would like to state I am a 12 year old boy. I saw this movie to kill some time before I could go to a party. I cried so much at the end that I used up all the tissue. I think about the solders every day now that I have seen this movie. My friends know me as the war freak. No offense to modern teenagers, but most of them couldn't give a great big sh#* about the sacrificing of the veterns in this war. This movie is a great movie to show teenagers what war is like. The first thirty minutes is hell. The plot-line fits right into it. The character development is great. The F/X are the best I have seen in all my life. If you want a great war movie to show you what war was like, I strongly suggest this masterpiece of Speilberg's adding to his hundreds of other masterpieces. Worth every dollar. Have we really earned the lives of those troops?
on October 30, 2014
First of all, Saving Private Ryan is one of the best movies of my time. The whole idea of the movie, the special FX, etc. makes you feel as if you're in the war. It doesn't just follow a plain old war movie, it gets personal with the story. The idea of having to go through Germany to find one soldier and possibly lose your whole team is noble. The only down factor to the movie is how long it takes for the plot to build up but I mean that is the whole point, I feel if it skipped some parts the movie wouldn't feel complete. That's where personal aspect of the movie comes in.
Character wise this is an all-star cast. Tom Hanks fits the role perfect of Captain Miller. Captain Miller was a school teacher back home but you can tell he's been through a lot especially when emphasized by the up and close shots. There is ultimately a story to uncover about the captain. Now there are many more all star actors in this film but one I would definitely like to mention is Tom Sizemore playing the role of Sgt. Horvath. Sizemore also stars in another great film, "Black Hawk Down". I personally feel if Sgt. Horvath was fulfilled by another person that it would take a lot away from the movie. War movies are Sizemore's strong suit.
As I mentioned the special FX are and were advanced for it's time. I personally love World War II based films , video games and books so before watching for the first time I was definitely anxious to see how well put together the film was. Being directed by Steven Spielberg I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. The most notable scene is the first twenty minutes, the invasion of Normandy. Now we all should know what happens through our history books but the amount of time and effort put into making this scene is astonishing. I'm not going to give any spoilers for someone who hasn't watched the film yet.
I would also like to mention the comedic scenes in the film. Every time Corporal Upham messed up something I found myself cracking up. However, in no way is it "Inglorious Bastards". To compare these two films would be outrageous. I've had a few friends that have never seen Saving Private Ryan and they always ask me if it is like "Inglorious Bastards". My simple answer is and always will be, "Just watch it, you won't be disappointed".
Overall I give this movie 4 stars considering the fact some people can't sit through the whole movie, well at least people I know. As mentioned, the movie fulfills all types of personal portrayals. If you watch this movie, you can have those characters remembered and in a way honored. It makes you realize what the soldiers in WWII went through. I would recommend this to anyone who loves WWII based stories.