Essay Question: Analyse the methods used to make the opening battle sequence of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ both shocking and realistic. After living through the battle of Omaha beach on D-Day, U.S. Army Ranger captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) is given a new assignment: to find Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon). Ryan’s three brothers have all been killed in action and his mother will be informed of all three deaths at the same time. General George Marshall personally decides to send a squad to bring him back for her sake. Miller conceals his profession of being a school teacher and his background from the troops under his command.
Under intensely difficult circumstances, Miller shows a courageous attitude to his soldiers – his nervousness is communicated to them only by an occasional shaking of his right hand, which he cannot control. Eventually, at the cost of two members of their unit, Miller and his men find Ryan defending a vital bridge. Miller breaks the news of his brothers’ deaths to him and tells him that he is going home.
Ryan does not listen, wanting to stay with his squad because they’re “the only brothers I have left.” Ryan persuades Miller to remain and take command of the unit. Because of his inspired leadership, the bridge over the Merderet River in the (fictional) village of Ramelle is saved, but only two of Miller’s men survive the ferocious German assault. Ryan lives, but Miller is fatally wounded. His last words to Ryan are “Earn this.”
Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 Academy Award winning film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. This film is recognised for the intensity of the scenes in the first thirty minutes, which depict the Omaha assault of June 6, 1944. After that, it takes a fictional route built around the search for Private Ryan. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and won five: for Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing.
It breaks some of the traditional conventions of war as it takes away the heroics, and there is more blood and gore. There are many well-known stars in this epic adventure, some of the most prominent are: Tom Hanks – Captain John H. Miller, a former school teacher from Pennsylvania who keeps his life private from his squadron. Edward Burns – Private Richard Reiben, from Brooklyn. BAR Gunner and a nutty man trying to understand the purpose of their mission. The sole survivor of the Ranger unit.
Tom Sizemore – Master Sgt. Michael Horvath, M1 Carbine Rifleman and Miller’s number two guy. Matt Damon – Private James Francis Ryan, Paratrooper Rifleman Jeremy Davies – Corporal Timothy E. Upham — not originally in Miller’s company, he is attached to the squadron by Miller to be used as a language translator. Adam Goldberg – Private Stanley Mellish, a Jewish Rifleman. Nathan Fillion – Minnesota Private Ryan, Rifleman.
The release date for this movie was July 24, 1998. The film was shot in England, Ireland, and France. An approximate budget was $70 million. The film made more than $215 million at the domestic box office and nearly $375 million worldwide. In preparation for their roles, the actors went through a week of boot camp with retired Marine Dale Dye– except Matt Damon (Private Ryan), who was excused from the training so that a real-life hatred of him by the others would be formed. D day, June 6, 1944, was the largest invasion in military history–175,000 soldiers of the Allied Expeditionary Force invaded Normandy.
In the first scene, we see the flag of the USA, while patriotic music is playing in the background, it shows the focus of the scene, and tells the audience the focal point of the movie. There are extreme close-ups of his face; this technique is used to show the expressions upon his face. The hand-held camera, at the back of the group gives us a feeling that we are there, and gives him superiority. As the family reaches the cemetery, we see tombstones, not a few, but rows and rows filled with them.
They are not the traditional gravestones, which show the name, date of birth, etc… of the person, but are just symbols of faith (e.g. the cross, for Christianity). When the people gather around the one tombstone, the mid-angled shot is used. It shows the rows of tombstones, which emphasizes how many people were killed on D day. The man falls to his knees, indicating his emotions, his family approach him, patting him, comforting him. Again, an extreme close-up on his face is used showing his expressions. During the transition, we hear crashing waves, it adds to the effect that we are there. This signifies that we are going to the past; it is almost as if we are reading his mind.