Saving Private Ryan
Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) takes his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Surrounded by the brutal realties of war, while searching for Ryan, each man embarks upon a personal journey and discovers their own strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.
Release Date: July 24, 1998
Writer: Robert Rodat
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producer: Steven Spielberg, Mark Gordon, Mark Huffam, Allison Lyon Segan, Ian Bryce, Bonnie Curtis, Gary Levinsohn, Kevin De La Noy
Cast: David Wohl, Dennis Farina, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Adam Goldberg, Paul Giamatti, Jeremy Davies, Harve Presnell, Vin Diesel, Dale Dye, Ryan Hurst, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Bryan Cranston, Harrison Young
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On one hand, this movie is extremely violent, bloody and full of war gore. The language is very strong, with at least 50 f-bombs. But if you want to appreciate the reality of WWII, see this film. It's based on a true story about a family in Northern Utah, where one family lost 3 or 4 sons in battle and the U.S. government decided to bring the final surviving son home to his parents. It's a powerful film in many ways, if you can stomach the reality of war.April 9th, 2013 · Details
Extremely violent but one of the most important films made about WW2 ever. Beautiful acting and direction. Between Schindler's List and this one for Spielberg's opus in my estimation. If not for the violence, I would say it's recommended reading for any US or World history class regardless of age.May 13th, 2011 · Details
Most definitely violent and R rated due to the subject matter but also movie that every adult should see. It will give any viewer an appreciation for the men and women who sacrificed so much in the second world war.March 25th, 2011 · Details
If Steven Spielberg hadn't already made "Schindler's List" and "Amistad," people would be shocked to see him listed as the director of "Saving Private Ryan." As it is, many unsuspecting audiences probably still will be.
That's not to say that the film is a disappointment. In fact, if anything, this exceptionally involving drama will probably be "the" World War II movie made during the '90s it's certainly the finest movie made this year and a shoo-in for a bevy of Academy Award nominations.
But be forewarned that it is extremely vivid (i.e., graphic) in its portrayal of wartime violence, to an almost offputting degree.
Actually, it's possible that the first 24-minute sequence, which re-creates part of the D-Day invasion, could chase away some crowds because of the intensely realistic action.
However, those who stay and keep an open mind will understand why Spielberg chose to play things in that manner war is a bloody, violent, chaotic event, which is not pretty or glamorous, despite the glossy version Hollywood filmmakers have put on screen for so long.
Besides, the violence isn't done to titillate or to give the film a more sensationalistic edge. And what follows that devastating opening serves almost as it counterpart (though it is almost as violent as the beginning), as the story slowly unfolds to emerge as a stirring ode to loyalty, sacrifice and devotion to duty.
It's also superbly cast and well-acted, with a series of performances that should and probably will receive their share of Oscar nods.
Chief among them is two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, who stars as Capt. John Miller, the leader of a dangerous mission behind enemy lines to retrieve one man, Pvt. James Ryan (Matt Damon), a young paratrooper whose brothers were already killed in the war, so he can return home.
But the search isn't an easy one. Miller's small squadron which includes wisecracking Pvt. Reiben (Edward Burns), steadfast Sgt. Horvath (Tom Sizemore), translator Cpl. Upham (Jeremy Davies) and sharpshooter Pvt. Jackson (Barry Pepper) questions the sanity of the mission. And when the soldiers begin dropping like flies on their hazard-filled march through the countryside, Miller starts to do so as well.
Making things even worse, the cargo plane transporting Ryan and his fellow paratroopers to Europe wound up overloaded and off course, leaving many of them miles from where they were supposed to be dropped.
What ensues is memorable and moving, a testament to America's fighting men that doesn't oversentimentalize its subject or resort to jingoistic messages. "Saving Private Ryan" may not be an easy film to watch, but is ultimately rewarding for those who does so.
It also shows Spielberg's technical skills at their best, with stunning wide-angle photography (courtesy of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, from "Schindler's List") that looks like it could have been shot during the war itself. And who can quibble with the film's pacing? There isn't an excess moment in its almost three-hour running time.
The story, by screenwriter Robert Rodat ("I'll Fly Away"), is nicely structured as well. (Some uncredited dialogue assists from ace scripters Scott Frank and Frank Darabont certainly don't hurt.)
On the performance side, it's sometimes easy to overlook Hanks when he's playing a "normal guy" role, but don't be surprised if he wins another Oscar for his work here.
Other standouts in the cast are Burns and Sizemore, who are surprisingly good given the uneven quality of some of their previous work, and Davies ("Spanking the Monkey"), who serves as the movie's wide-eyed innocent and its conscience.
"Saving Private Ryan" is rated R for disturbingly graphic wartime violence and gore, use of profane language and vulgar jokes and slang.July 24th, 1998 · Details