Saving Private Ryan may be the most realistic war movie I’ve ever seen. A feat that’s earned it admiration as one of greatest movies ever made. I expect nothing less from Steven Spielberg. After tackling World War II in a variety of ways, the famed director never made an outright war picture. Along with an epic score from John Williams, Saving Private Ryan became just the project Spielberg was looking for. Like most people my age, Saving Private Ryan was something teachers showed in school. Since its opening accurately portrays WWII in explicit detail. While not as much as my brother who bares the movie’s name, that scene was all I saw for years. Only recently have I experienced the battle in all its glory.
Saving Private Ryan goes to great lengths in depicting the pivotal D-Day of 1944. As American troops made their Normandy landing on duck boats to Omaha Beach. The unrelenting conflict never lets up with brave men losing their lives and suffering horrific injuries. The impactful scene was part of the reason I needed to work myself up to watching the film. Saving Private Ryan refers to young soldier James F. Ryan who lost all three of his brothers to combat. To ease his mother’s suffering, George Marshall himself orders Captain John H. Miller and his men to bring Ryan home. What follows is an intense journey that tests the patience, morality, and stamina of these troops who must risk it all to save one man. Tom Hanks as Miller is a performance that made me respect him even more as a dramatic actor.
The entire cast is great, but what really threw me was just how many unexpected actors play a role. Paul Giamatti, Nathan Fillion, and even a young Vin Diesel take part. As if unceremoniously, Ryan is finally found in the form of Matt Damon. He doesn’t make it easy for them, but in their final hour against the Nazis, Ryan must earn his right to survive. Beginning and ending with the real life Normandy memorial is exactly the catharsis a story like this requires. Saving Private Ryan earned its 11 Academy Award nominations. With 5 wins for Best Cinematography, Sound, Film Editing, Sound Effects Editing, and Director Steven Spielberg. Yet despite its reputation, Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture. After seeing both, I agree that there isn’t a bigger Oscar upset than this. Saving Private Ryan is about as perfect a war epic can get.