War is the worst tragedy that may happen to the mankind. What can be powerful enough to describe the horror and cruelty of battles? There are many films dedicated to wars – some of them are romanticized, some are simplified. Steven Spielberg’s movie “Saving Private Ryan” was released in 1998 and was acknowledged by critics and viewers as the film with the most truthful combats. Brilliant performance of the actors – Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller, Matt Damon as Private First Class James Francis Ryan, Tom Sizemore as Technical Sergeant Mike Horvath and others make the audience believe that they view real soldiers.
The plot of the movie includes both real and fictional events. The opening scene of the film is the Invasion of Normandy, which actually took place on June 6, 1944. The depiction of horror and chaos of the combat is overwhelmingly realistic. The landing crafts were created after the real models, and two actual boats from that battle were used (The Story Behind the Movie – Historical Accuracy). Shaking camera, unstable sound and faded colors with gray and red prevailing convey the fear and bewilderment of the situation. Soldiers feel seek, scream, try to safe their own lives and fix the wounded limbs. It was recognized by critics and, what is more important, by veterans as the most accurate depiction of the D-Day.
After the battle, a general of the USA Army finds out that a woman has lost three sons and is going to receive grievous notifications all at once. He decides to send her last son, who is missing-in-action at the moment, Private James Ryan home. Captain John Miller and his squad of 8 men are given an order to find James. They have to travel through France and finally find him in a town of Ramelle. There they have to fight with a German detachment. Unfortunately, for Miller and many soldiers from his squad this battle becomes their last exploit.
During World War II, there existed a military program – Sole Survivor Policy. It was established after five brothers Sullivan were killed. The government decided that is would be fair to bring some relief to the families who sacrificed so many sons for the war. That is why some soldiers were sent home when their bothers were killed (Saving Private Ryan- Eric and Anna). Therefore, the plot of the movie is accurate. However, the fulfillment of the program is romanticized and depicted as a saving operation. In reality, no commander would send soldiers to find one private: the task does not approve time and efforts spend. Moreover, the relations in Miller’s squad are too friendly. One of the soldiers even questions the importance of the mission. This would not happen during the war as the orders were given for fulfillment, not for the discussion. If someone dared to talk like that to the captain, he would be court-martialed. It is doubtful that soldiers would play with the badges of the dead – this issue is too serious to make jokes. The plot of the movie is based on the Niland’s family story. Sergeant Fredrick Niland was a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment’s 101st Airborne Division. When three his brothers were killed, he was returned home for the family not to lose all their sons. Still, no squad was sent to find him (French).
Concerning the last battle in Ramelle, it is a director’s imagination, such event never occurred. However, there were numerous similar combats; thus, it cannot be judged as a rude historical inaccuracy. In France, there were many important bridges that had to be defended, so the scenario at Ramelle is possible. The city, weapons, and costumes are true to history. Still, many tactical errors were done both by both sides, for instance, it was a blunder to enter narrow streets of a destroyed city by tank. On the other hand, the movie is not a documentary, and some historical details may be sacrificed for bright dramatic effect.
Ireland and parts of England with vast country sides substituted Omaha Beach located in France. The nature in the film is very picturesque, yet the land was torn and devastated during the war. In fact, no combats were screened in factual location as the film crew needed space and freedom without fear to damage historical landmarks. During the journey to find Ryan, the soldiers talk too much. This was inacceptable because the enemy could easily detect them. For the same reason walking broadly in the daytime was dangerous. The costumes are very accurate; the costume designer spent a lot of time and used real war uniforms as models to make the costumes true to the time. The only remark is that often the helmet straps were left unbuckled. Soldiers were aware that helmets may save their lives and were afraid to lose them and become unprotected. Concerning the soldiers, the film shows both strong and weak traits of their character. Even Germans do not seem to be cruel beasts, but people with own troubles and fates.
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To sum up, the film is as curate as a fiction film about the World War II can be. The main facts are not twisted, and some details are added to make a tense and exiting plot. When Miller dies, he tells to Ryan: “Deserve it”. These words may be addresses to all people leaving. Do new generations lead a decent life in a world that was saved for them at the cost of numerous lives?