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Why Saving Private Ryan Is Called The Best War Movie Ever Made

Saving Private Ryan reaches a major milestone in 2023 as it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the release of arguably one of the greatest war movies ever made. Nominated for an impressive 11 Academy Awards, Steven Spielberg’s film is renowned for its accurate portrayal of World War II through realistic and often difficult-to-watch scenes.


Directed by a brilliant cast that includes Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribisi, among others. The story follows a group of American soldiers who go behind enemy lines to find a paratrooper after all of his brothers are killed in action. The movie is hard to forget once it reaches its conclusion and is a must-watch for all moviegoers, let alone all war movie fans.

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Private Ryan’s Saving Normandy D-Day scene is incredibly realistic

Omaha Beach in Saving Private Ryan (1998)

One of the most revered parts of Saving Private Ryan he comes via flashback and is almost at the beginning of the movie. It’s a virtual assault on the senses and one of the reasons the film still holds up today. The film opens with a prologue in which a veteran takes his family to the Normandy American Cemetery. The old man then has a flashback and viewers are drawn into the assault on Omaha Beach after the Normandy Landings.

The scene depicts John H. Miller (Hanks) as he leads his C Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion on a breakout, and what follows is 30 minutes of on-the-ground POV that never strays from any of the world’s most brutal events. assault. From bodies flying after being blown up and disemboweled dead soldiers on the beach to blood-red seawater, the scene required over 750 extras on the beach and over 17,000 squibs to make the sequence incredibly realistic. . It’s loud, horrifying, and beautifully crafted, without an ounce of Spielbergian sentimentality.

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Saving Private Ryan accurately depicts the horrors of war

Still from Band of Brothers Why We Fight episode

While the sequence received mixed reviews from the actual Allied soldiers, it was mostly considered accurate in its depiction of how horrible the actual day was. The Omaha scene is just one in a movie that runs nearly three hours, and while it’s the most impactful, like the first battle scene, it’s just the beginning. And one of the things the film does best is its portrayal of just how relentless and terrifying war is, made even more poignant by its personal story of (mostly) real-life men. This realism is due in part to the fact that Saving Private Ryan is based on a true story, that of the real Niland brothers: Frederick (Fritz), Edward, Preston, Robert.

And just like in real war, good people sometimes die, men often lose their close comrades and friends, and death can be graphic and merciless. There are moments when audiences see how young, confused and alone these men are, and this was still quite rare in Hollywood movies which, up until that point, still largely told stories of one-dimensional soldiers who bravely and happily marched on. into battle to emerge victorious on the other side.

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RELATED: Saving Private Ryan: Why Captain Miller’s Hands Are Shaking

Reminds us that normal people fought in World War II

Ross McCall as Joseph D. Liebgott in Band of Brothers

Saving Private Ryan brought to life by its cast of exceptional actors, and the film includes several cameos from now-very recognizable faces, including Bryan Cranston. Unlike many other heartwarming movies, all of these characters are shown as real people with depth and dimension, and audiences get to know many of them quite well. Showing the reality of war in all its mess, following young people unsure of their decisions and mostly full of fear, Saving Private Ryan reminds the audience that many people who fought in World War II were normal people with no military background. Tom Hanks’ character was an English teacher and baseball coach before joining the war, for example, and the film carefully details the backstories and lives of each main character.

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By telling the true story of who made up the allies, Spielberg humanises the characters and gives the audience something to relate to and see themselves with. They were young people from all over the country who just wanted to go home; sometimes they got bored. They sometimes joked around, made mistakes, got into trouble, and suffered great personal loss. As Roger Ebert described, not only Miller, but the “the actors playing the men below him are effective, in part because Spielberg resists the urge to turn them into wacky “characters” in the tradition of WWII movies, and deliberately makes them ordinary.

Saving Private Ryan was honest about the morally gray side of war

A soldier watches a Band of Brothers concentration camp

Saving Private Ryan it also shows that war can be inhumane on both sides, as the focus of the goal for all shifts from a broader military campaign to mere self-preservation. What is shown is a completely different environment from the previous daily lives of the young soldiers, and so a new kind of existence begins to form within the vacuum of war, in which allies can sometimes be ruthless, and other soldiers can also be seen as young. , scared and confused. Because of the setting, they become familiar with a landscape in which life is cheap and one’s actions are born out of trauma and the need for some form of retribution. In many cases, allied soldiers are seen as simply doing the best they can in the given situation with the emotional and tactical tools they have, trauma and all, and sometimes this means morally questionable decisions must be made.

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A scene that stands out in this sense is the one in which the protagonists must decide what to do with a captured Nazi soldier after he killed one of his companions. In the end, and in the face of conflicting opinions, Captain Miller decides to release the prisoner, further cementing his role as the most morally stalwart leader of the group. While perhaps not the most emotionally wrenching scene in Saving Private RyanIt is one of the most unforgettable. Much of the film’s realism comes from its poetic retelling of the tug-of-war between many of the characters as they must decide between doing the morally right thing and following orders. But there isn’t always a right answer, and it’s not always immediately clear whether the right decision has been made.

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Roger Ebert called Saving Private Ryan a “powerful experience“, and that’s an understatement. It’s one of the best war movies ever made because it shows what is essentially just a small snapshot of World War II and a particularly small group of men within it who don’t always come across as perfect. , Brave or Even He’s Always Right Janusz Kaminski’s incomparable cinematography grips the audience from the very first moment. Saving Private RyanThe opening scene throws the audience to the ground with the men, immediately telling the viewer that they won’t be spared seeing any of the ugliness. What begins with this scene builds into one of the most moving cinematic experiences, and is probably the closest anyone can get to depicting what real life was like on the battlefields during those years, both personally and tactical.

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MORE: Saving Private Ryan Cast Guide: Every Famous Actor In Spielberg’s Movie

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