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Spielberg’s latest epic, Saving Private Ryan, has shocked audiences around the world with his brutally realistic, down-to-earth World War II invasion of Omaha beach. The film opens with the landing boats full of petrified, white-faced, conscripted soldiers, who struggle to cope with the pure terror imposed upon them from the enormity of the task they face.
No sooner do you see a close up of their trembling faces and each person’s emotions and worries, the doors opened and the first wave of men were torn to shreds by German machine gun fire. Many men drowned as they were dragged under by their heavy equipment, and those who made it to the shore found themselves seriously outnumbered and out gunned. Specially-designed, frantic freehand camera-work creates the impression you are in the middle of the carnage, so Spielberg puts the audience on the beach with the Allies.
Eventually the soldiers complete the takeover of the beach but as the scene draws to a close, the former hand-held camera is now far more panoramic, scanning the beach from a height, but regardless of the thousands of bodies strewn across it, you do not see one face showing war de-humanising all the real people involved in it, who have families back home, but also turning those real people into just numbers and cannon fodder.
The scene ends with a close-up of a dead soldier’s pack which contains the words Pvt S. Ryan and the scene cuts. Throughout the entire scene there was a tremendous amount of clever sounds and moving music. For instance, in the panoramic opening scene the music is rather dark and solemn, with a lot of low strings and brass, especially horns. This sets the tone for the scene to unfold.
In the first scene there is no music to emphasise actually being there, however there are numerous non-diegetic sounds added such as the underwater bullets piercing the struggling soldiers, the way when Captain Miller gets confused and deaf that the sound is blurred and returns to normal when he comes round but there is also diegetic sound when the explosions are going off as the film crew used hundreds of set explosions in the scene, the lapping of the waves and the monologue were all diegetic sounds.
The next scene is a wonderfully made piece that is truly emotional and is a silent one. There is a woman in a crowded office with light shining through, a complete contrast to the dark, de-saturated war scene a moment before. The lady sees three telegrams from the same family and takes it to the senior staff. It is reassuring to see how these men-in-power have some humanity left, taking the case higher and higher until it found the commander-in-chief played by the talented Bryan Cranston who decides that the remaining sibling should be pulled out and sent back to the grieving mother.
The point where the mother received the news was fantastically portrayed by Spielberg. It is set in the countryside with a traditional American home surrounded by golden fields yet in the corner of the sky it is dark grey and symbolises the bad news on its way. The car crawls up the small, winding, country lane viewed panoramically from in front of and behind the house.
There was one shot that was astoundingly emotional, where Spielberg captured a close-up of the mother’s reaction while showing the car and effectively the news creeping closer, through using the reflection of the window. As she rushes to the door she is cleverly silhouetted out showing that it could be anyone receiving the news and that vast amounts of parents go through this. Also as part of the mise en scene, when she opens the door, she is blacked out and the car pulls up along the house then the officials climb out, the woman falls to her knees.
However, throughout this whole dark shot, to the right is a coffee table with light streaming on to it, there is a photo of the four boys in their army uniform showing that they all went but also expanding the plot as you know that there were only three telegrams. All over the table there are flags and patriotic items, this tries to show that the people are behind the war, and that it is the ordinary people who have to stand up to the tyrant.
Finally, Spielberg covers many aspects of war in his brilliant production and uses vast amounts of extremely intelligent shots and clever, emotional to portray the emotions and effects that the de-humanising war had on normal people such as Miller, the small town English teacher at home and on the front. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.