Saving Private Ryan Essay
Saving Private Ryan
The ingenious film, directed by Steven Spielberg, `Saving Private Ryan’ is in my opinion the most realistic film to ever portray the D- Day landings. Many critics have even said it to be so vivid that the only element missing is the smell. In the Film’s first battle scene, lasting twenty- five minutes in total, it brings all reality into the living nightmare that took place so long ago. Brought back into life by Spielberg, I will show how he creates excitement and tension in the most realistic of ways.
I will discuss how he portrays the characters, his use of sound and last of all, his use of camera shots and how they contribute to the overall effect of the scene. Spielberg manifests an overall memorable opening scene and I will show just how. Released on the 24^th July 1998, `Saving Private Ryan’ promised to break all blockbuster records and go straight to the top. Spielberg stunned the world with the film’s realism and authenticity, proving that his renowned reputation is not just hearsay, but fact.
The plot is loosely inspired by the true story of the Niland brothers, where two of the four were killed and the third, presumed dead. The decision was made to retrieve the fourth, to prevent a national uproar and from a whole family from being wiped out due to War. The plot, proving exciting, brings much controversy over the mission to risk eight lives for the sake of one. The whole epic World War 11 drama cost approximately $65 million in total, most of which was spent on the graphic detail and effects in the first battle scene of the film. Although the twenty-five minute battle scene is complex cinematically and visually, the plot of the beach landings follows through reasonably simply. The scene starts off in focus of a small regiment of troops, quivering inside the hull of a boat, petrified by the sound of oncoming machine gun fire.
The ramps fall down as a wheel spins round, pronouncing the ends to most of their lives. The boat opens out as many are shot dead instantly by the flurry of bullets thrust toward them. Few make it out a live before they have to plough through thousands of dead up the beach. As the battle scene cuts into view, the first character to be seen visually is Captain Miller. This immediately indicates that he is high up in rank and so, instantly gives him a commanding presence among the craft.
The calmness of his voice even seems to sedate the tension in the atmosphere. However, the initial part of him to be seen is his pair of trembling hands. This conventionally is a sign of fear and to some, may show a weakness. Leaders are not usually associated with fear; stereotypically they are fearless. Spielberg has used this ironically, to show the realism within his character. All the soldiers fighting on that day were normal citizens fighting for pride and country. They all experienced fear. On D- day there were no fearless war heroes such as John Wayne and this is why Captain Miller, along with all the other troops, is shown in trepidation. As the shot moves outward, the whole of Captain Miller’s body is revealed.
His appearance can be seen and again realism is reinforced. The person acting as Captain Miller, Tom Hanks does not have the stereotypical appearance of a War hero; he is small, placid and in lack of the muscle attributes usually associated with a clichi?? d soldier. Through this casting Spielberg conveys a message. The men fighting on that day were normal. They weren’t all large men built of muscle, who could defy death and so, the person cast as Captain Miller isn’t either. Through this, the character of Captain Miller is made realer to the audience, thus making the film more accurate and historically correct.
On the beach, after the regiment has landed, the Captain experiences a brief period where his emotions and conscience are thrown into turmoil. The horror of what is happening around him starts to sink in, as all terror results in a mental breakdown. The fact that he does not just march through the beach and that he is affected shows his compassion and empathy. It shows he is a caring human being; one who is gravely affected by the horrific things being done to his comrades.
Through this period of collapse, Spielberg creates lots of tension, as the audience, who have gradually started to become attached to this realistic character, are willing him to snap out of it and gain his composure. They want him to get out of this situation and lead his troops up the beach. Another character that stands prominent in this scene is that of Sergeant Horvath. Spielberg has used Horvath’s character to contrast with Captain Miller, and this is seen even in the first few seconds of his di?? but. Immediately as the audience set eyes upon his broad build, it can be seen that he is much more robust than the Captain and that he conforms more to the stereotypical image of a fictional war hero.
I think that Spielberg has highlighted this point emphasise the normality and ordinary image of Captain Miller. He has done this to show that soldiers were all shapes and sizes. Through this contrast made, the realism of both characters is increased as they both can be recognised uniquely. Horvath and Miller again contrast in their methods of dealing with the trepidation and horror thrown at them. Whereas the Captain releases his petrified state through the constant trembling of his hands, Horvath allows his fear to disperse through chewing. Through Horvath’s different reaction, Spielberg defines his character more, making him more realistic as he deals with situations in a different way.
As soldiers in real life all reacted uniquely depending on their personalities, Horvath does too. The audience then can identify better with him, likening him to people they know, thus recognising him as a real type of person, one who is unique. Although Captain Miller and Sergeant Horvath contrast in many ways, together they form a prevailing partnership. In every order relayed by the Captain, the Sergeant reinforces it, thus portraying his regard, proving that he has an immense admiration for the man. Horvath continuously stays close to the Captain, waiting for his command and looking out for him.
Spielberg uses him as the Captains right arm. Everything about Horvath, from his bear like face, down to his cumbersome build, shout; protector! In view of this, the audience take a liking to him and confide comfort in the fact that Horvath will protect and bring their `everyman’ (the Captain) to safety. Spielberg uses the relationship between the two characters to excite the audience, as he shows that War is so out of the ordinary, that it brought together people in friendships who otherwise wouldn’t have done so.
Captain Miller and Sergeant Horvath have such a strong relationship during this scene that excitement arouses among the audience, as they know that together the two will survive. Private Jackson, the regiment’s sniper is another character that has an essential role in the battle scene. His preliminary appearance is in the landing craft, immediately before the ramps descend. His face, being one of pure dread is an open book to the audience. He is so terrified that his expression and the first act that he commits, a kiss on a cross, show that he believes that there is no hope for survival left. It is as though he thinks that a kiss on the cross is the last action he is going to do and that if God is ever going to come to his aid, let it be now.
I think that Spielberg has used this crucifix and his expression of misgiving, to draw compassion for the Private, but also to show how close death is to God. Immense suspense is created through the terror in Jackson’s eyes. Private Jackson is not focused upon much during the struggle to gain ground and progress up the beach, however is substantial in the climax of the Scene. In this section of the scene, there is a long pause where the camera focuses upon the concentration on Jackson’s face. He is speaking to God as he prepares to shoot and kill the Germans.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 July 2017
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