I’m the first to admit that anything relating to World War II, whether it’s movies, books, TV series, etc, I tend to avoid. It just something that doesn’t appeal to me. I do believe it is very important to know the history of one of the most catastrophic events in the world, however, the media desensitized me from looking further into it on my spare time. I also blame my boring history class back in high school. Ironically, the one World War II film we watched in history class that I was really impressed by was Saving Private Ryan. My teacher warned us that this portrayal of the war in this movie is realistic and graphic. At first I didn’t believe him, but oh boy was I ever wrong.
Playing a movie in class was a perfect opportunity for me to catch a nap but the opening scene kept me up and wanting more. If anyone that is reading this and hasn’t seen Saving Private Ryan yet, just watch the first 20 or so minutes because it will make you pay attention. This opening scene was brutal! All you could hear were soldiers screaming from pain and praying from fear. Behind the battle cries were bullets ricocheting from metal to flesh. Explosions and flames, broken body parts, bloody water, blackened dirt, all falling under a grey gloomy sky was personally hard to watch. This scene was depressing to get through but it was what persuaded me to continue watching.
The dialogue alone should be commanded as well. This film has tremendous storytelling method and as a viewer, you get pulled into the soldiers’ tales of brotherhood, love, and battle. They did a great job of making you feel the same emotions they pour out. When they laugh, you can’t help but smile with them. When they feel anger, you feel their hatred. When they cry, you begin to tear up (almost). Personally, some of the conversations were difficult to comprehend because of military-esque terminology and slang but I did get a sense of what they were talking about.
The acting was superb. Every actor from Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, and Matt Damon to the extras did a wonderful job of portraying realistic combat personnels. Everyone had a special role and they played their part very well. You just can’t help but root for them to continue fighting even though they are broken and drained. When a soldier dies (and a lot of them do die) I felt like I lost a friend and it wasn’t easy to get over the loss.
Going back to the action, the climax of Saving Private Ryan was pure destruction. The final moments of the film were in my opinion even more chaotic than the opening scene. Unlike the first scene, this one showed more panic attacks and other psychological breakdowns. This was a complete massacre and one of the best action sequences I’ve seen in a movie.
What I got from the message of the Saving Private Ryan was the ability to make crucial decisions and the aftermath from them. If I were an American soldier serving in World War II, I would have to come up with solutions to life or death situations and it could potentially affect my fellow comrades. Every mission we layout, every bullet we fire would have to be thought out. For example, Edward Burns’ character, Reiban, was conflicted on continuing the mission to find Private Ryan or give up and go home. He chose to stay and lucky for him, he survived along with Ryan. In his eyes, the choice to find and save Ryan was successful. However, what if he instead chose to back out? What would happen to the rest of the team? What if another comrade left as well? Would the mission fail? In Saving Private Ryan, you always see two sides to every problem and you have to choose which side of the dilemma to go with. Because of this, a lot of soldiers live and many, if not more, die. to sum it up, I would say the theme of this movie is that life is a gamble and whatever side you choose, make it count. Earn it.
If you are not familiar with Steven Spielberg’s works, then I would suggest to start with Saving Private Ryan. This film is very detailed. From the dialogue, the setting, the action, the flow of scenery, you will get a sense of how much of a genius Spielberg is when it comes to directing. If you are looking for a gritty, violent but realistic take on World War II, then this is it. This was my second or third time watching Saving Private Ryan and I would have no problem watching it again. its that good.