Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. The film is notable for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depict the Omaha beachhead assault of June 6, 1944. Afterward, it follows Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller and several men (Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies) as they search for paratrooper Private James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who is the last surviving brother of three fallen servicemen.
Rodat first came up with the film's story in 1994 when he saw a monument dedicated to four sons of Agnes Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania. The brothers were killed in the American Civil War. Rodat decided to write a similar story set during World War II. The script was submitted to producer Mark Gordon, who then handed it to Hanks. It was finally given to Spielberg, who decided to direct. The film's premise is very loosely based on the real-life case of the Niland brothers.
Saving Private Ryan was well received by audiences and garnered considerable critical acclaim, winning several awards for film, cast, and crew as well as earning significant returns at the box office. The film grossed US$481.8 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing domestic film of the year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated the film for eleven Academy Awards; Spielberg's direction won him a second Academy Award for Best Director. Saving Private Ryan was released on home video in May 1999, earning $44 million from sales.
The film begins with an elderly World War II veteran and his family visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-mer; Normandy, France. The scene then cuts to the morning of June 6, 1944, the beginning of the Normandy invasion, with American soldiers preparing for the perils of landing on Omaha Beach and struggling against dug-in German infantry, machine gun nests, and artillery fire, which cut down many of the men. Captain John H. Miller, commanding officer of Charlie Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, survives the initial landing and assembles a group of soldiers to slowly penetrate the German defenses, leading to a breakout from the beach.
The scene then shifts to the United States where General George Marshall is informed that three of four brothers in the Ryan family have all died within days of each other and that their mother will receive all three notices on the same day. He learns that the fourth son, Private James Francis Ryan of Baker Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne is missing in action somewhere in Normandy. After reading to his staff Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby, Marshall orders that Ryan be found and sent home immediately.
Back in France, Miller receives orders to find Ryan. He assembles six Rangers from his company, plus one man detailed from the 29th Infantry Division, who speaks fluent French and German, to accomplish the task. With no information about Ryan's whereabouts, Miller and his men move out to Neuville. On the outskirts of Neuville they meet a platoon from the 101st. After entering the town, Private Caparzo is fatally wounded by a sniper, who is in turn shot and killed by Private Jackson. They locate a Private James Fredrick Ryan from Minnesota but soon realize their mistake. They find a member of Charlie Company, 506th, who informs them that his drop zone was at Vierville and that Baker and Charlie companies had the same rally point. Once they reach the rally point, Miller locates a friend of Ryan's, who reveals that Ryan is defending a strategically-important bridge over the Merderet River in the fictional town of Ramelle.
On the way to Ramelle, Miller decides to take the opportunity to neutralize a small German machine gun position close to an abandoned radar station. Wade, their medic, is fatally wounded in the ensuing skirmish. The last surviving German, known only as "Steamboat Willie", incurs the wrath of all the squad members except Upham, who protests to Miller about letting the squad kill the German soldier. The German pleads for his life and Miller decides to let him walk away, blindfolded, and surrender himself to the next Allied patrol. Viewing Miller's decision as letting the enemy go free, and no longer confident in Miller's leadership, Private Reiben declares his intention to desert the squad and the mission, prompting a confrontation with Horvath. The argument heats up, until Miller reveals his origins, upon which the squad had set up a betting pool. Reiben then reluctantly decides to stay.
The squad finally arrives on the outskirts of Ramelle, where they help three paratroopers destroy a German halftrack. Among the paratroopers is Private Ryan. After entering Ramelle, Ryan is told of his brothers' deaths, and their mission to bring him home, and that two lives had been lost in the quest to find him. He is clearly distressed at the loss of his brothers, but does not feel it is fair to go home, saying, "these are my brothers," looking at the small band whose duty it was to defend a bridge and destroy an approaching German mechanized unit. Miller decides to take command and defend the bridge, setting up a creative defense plan with what little manpower and resources available.
The Germans arrive in force with more than 50 men supported by armor. Miller leads the defense, but in spite of inflicting heavy German casualties, most of the paratroopers, and his remaining squad, are killed. While attempting to blow the bridge, Miller is shot and fatally wounded. Just before a tank reaches the bridge, an American P-51 Mustang arrives and destroys it, followed by more Mustangs and advancing American infantry and M4 Sherman tanks who rout the remaining Germans. Upham executes "Steamboat Willie" upon finding him with a group of surrendering Germans. Ryan, Reiben, Upham, and a couple paratroopers are the only survivors of the battle. Ryan is with Miller as he dies and says his last words, "James... earn this. Earn it."
Back in the present, the elderly veteran is revealed to be Ryan at Miller's grave. He asks his wife to confirm that he has led a good life and that he is a "good man," and thus worthy of the sacrifice of Miller and the others. He then salutes Miller's grave as the camera pans down the gravestones to a placid American flag and fades out as it shows the number of men who died at D-Day.
* Tom Hanks as Captain John H. Miller.
* Tom Sizemore as Technical Sergeant Michael "Mike" Horvath.
* Edward Burns as Private First Class Richard Reiben, BAR gunner.
* Jeremy Davies as Technician Fifth Grade Timothy E. Upham, a cartographer and interpreter.
* Barry Pepper as Private Daniel Jackson, a marksman.
* Adam Goldberg as Private Stanley Mellish, a Jewish rifleman.
* Vin Diesel as Private First Class Adrian Caparzo, an Italian American rifleman.
* Giovanni Ribisi as Technician Fourth Grade Irwin Wade, a medic.
* Matt Damon as Private First Class James Francis Ryan, a paratrooper.
* Ted Danson as Captain Fred Hamill, Pathfinder company commander
* Dennis Farina as Lieutenant Colonel Walter Anderson, Miller's battalion commander
* Paul Giamatti as Staff Sergeant William Hill, paratrooper
* Harve Presnell as General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army
* Leland Orser as Second Lieutenant DeWindt, pilot of a crashed Waco CG-4 glider transport
* Bryan Cranston as Colonel I.W. Bryce, Colonel at the War Department
In 1994, Robert Rodat saw a monument in Putney Corners, New Hampshire, dedicated to eight brothers who died during the American Civil War. Inspired by the story, Rodat did some research and decided to write a similar story set in World War II. Rodat's script was submitted to producer Mark Gordon, who liked the story but only accepted the text after 11 redrafts. Gordon shared the finished script with Hanks, who liked it and in turn passed it along to Spielberg to direct. A shooting date was set for June 27, 1997. Before filming began, several of the film's stars, including Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Giovanni Ribisi, and Tom Hanks, endured ten days of "boot camp" training and work on the film set to prepare for their roles. Purposely, to make the rest of the group feel resentment to Matt Damon's character, Damon was not brought into the camp until the final days.
Spielberg had already demonstrated his interest in World War II themes with the films 1941, Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, and the Indiana Jones series. Spielberg later co-produced the World War II themed television miniseries Band of Brothers and its counterpart The Pacific with Tom Hanks. When asked about this by American Cinematographer, Spielberg said, "I think that World War II is the most significant event of the last 100 years; the fate of the Baby Boomers and even Generation X was linked to the outcome. Beyond that, I've just always been interested in World War II. My earliest films, which I made when I was about 14 years old, were combat pictures that were set both on the ground and in the air. For years now, I've been looking for the right World War II story to shoot, and when Robert Rodat wrote Saving Private Ryan, I found it."
The D-Day scenes were shot in Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand, Ballinesker, just east of Curracloe, Wexford, Ireland. Filming began June 27, 1997, and lasted for two months. Some shooting was done in Normandy, for the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer and Calvados. Other scenes were filmed in English locations such as a former British Aerospace factory in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, London, Thame Park, Oxfordshire, and Wiltshire. Production was due to also take place in Seaham, County Durham, but government restrictions disallowed this.
Saving Private Ryan has been critically noted for its realistic portrayal of World War II combat. In particular, the initial 24-minute sequence depicting the Omaha landings was voted the "best battle scene of all time" by Empire magazine and was ranked number one on TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest Movie Moments". The scene cost US$12 million and involved up to 1,500 extras, some of whom were members of the Irish Reserve Defence Forces. Members of local reenactment groups such as the Second Battle Group were cast as extras to play German soldiers. In addition, twenty to thirty actual amputees were used to portray US soldiers maimed during the landing. Spielberg did not storyboard the sequence, as he wanted spontaneous reactions and for "the action to inspire me as to where to put the camera".
The landing craft used included twelve actual World War II examples.httphttp The film-makers used underwater cameras to better depict soldiers being hit by bullets in the water. Forty barrels of fake blood were used to simulate the effect of blood in the seawater. This degree of realism was more difficult to achieve when depicting World War II German armored vehicles, as few examples survive in operating condition. The Tiger I tanks in the film were copies built on the chassis of old, but functional Soviet T-34 tanks. The two vehicles described in the film as Panzers were meant to portray Marder III self-propelled guns. One was created for the film using the chassis of a Czech-built Panzer 38(t) tank similar to the construction of the original Marder III; the other was a cosmetically-modified Swedish SAV m/43 assault gun, which also used the 38(t) chassis.
Inevitably, some artistic license was taken by the filmmakers for the sake of drama. One of the most notable is the depiction of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, as the adversary during the fictional Battle of Ramelle. The 2nd SS was not engaged in Normandy until July, and then at Caen against the British and Canadians, one hundred miles east. Furthermore, the Merderet River bridges were not an objective of the 101st Airborne Division but of the 82nd Airborne Division, part of Mission Boston. Much has been said about various "tactical errors" made by both the German and American forces in the film's climactic battle. Spielberg responded, saying that in many scenes he opted to replace sound military tactics and strict historical accuracy for dramatic effect.
To achieve a tone and quality that was not only true to the story, but reflected the period in which it is set, Spielberg once again collaborated with cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, saying, "Early on, we both knew that we did not want this to look like a Technicolor extravaganza about World War II, but more like color newsreel footage from the 1940s, which is very desaturated and low-tech." Kamiński had the protective coating stripped from the camera lenses, making them closer to those used in the 1940s. He explains that "without the protective coating, the light goes in and starts bouncing around, which makes it slightly more diffused and a bit softer without being out of focus." The cinematographer completed the overall effect by putting the negative through bleach bypass, a process that reduces brightness and color saturation. The shutter timing was set to 90 or 45 degrees for many of the battle sequences, as opposed to the standard of 180 degree timing. Kamiński clarifies, "In this way, we attained a certain staccato in the actors' movements and a certain crispness in the explosions, which makes them slightly more realistic."
The film was distributed by DreamWorks in North America and by Paramount Pictures internationally. As a result of Paramount's 2005 acquisition of DreamWorks, Paramount has gained North America distribution rights as well (though still through the DreamWorks division). Saving Private Ryan was a critical and commercial success and is credited with contributing to a resurgence in America's interest in World War II. Old and new films, video games, and novels about the war enjoyed renewed popularity after its release. The film's use of desaturated colors, hand-held cameras, and tight angles has profoundly influenced subsequent films and video games. Saving Private Ryan was released in 2,463 theatres on July 28, 1998, and grossed $30.5 million on its opening weekend. The film grossed $216.5 million in North America and $265.3 million on other territories, bringing its worldwide total to $481.8 million and making it the highest grossing domestic film of the year.
Critical reception for the film was generally positive, with much praise for the realistic battle scenes and the actors' performances, but earning some criticism for the script and for ignoring the contributions of several other countries to the D-Day landings in general and at Omaha Beach specifically. The most direct example of the latter is that during the actual landing the 2nd Rangers disembarked from British ships and were taken to Omaha Beach by Royal Navy landing craft (LCAs). The film depicts them as being United States Coast Guard-crewed craft (LCVPs and LCMs) from an American ship. This criticism was far from universal with other critics recognizing the director's intent to make an "American" film. The film was not released in Malaysia after Spielberg refused to cut the violent scenes; however, the film was finally released there on DVD with an 18SG certificate much later in 2005. It currently scores 90% "Certified Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes and 90% on Metacritic, two film review aggregate sites. Many critics associations, such as New York Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association, chose Saving Private Ryan as Film of the Year. Roger Ebert gave it four stars out of four and called it "a powerful experience".
The film was later nominated for eleven Academy Awards, with wins for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, Best Editing, and Best Director for Spielberg, but lost the Best Picture award to Shakespeare in Love, being one of a few that have won the Best Director award without also winning Best Picture. The film also won the Golden Globes for Best Picture – Drama and Director, the BAFTA Award for Special Effects and Sound, the Directors Guild of America Award, a Grammy Award for Best Film Soundtrack, the Producers Guild of America Golden Laurel Award, and the Saturn Award for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film. In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten Top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Saving Private Ryan was acknowledged as the eighth best film in the "epic films" genre.
The film debuted on home video in May 1999 with a VHS release that earned over $44 million. A later special edition, the D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, was released featuring an extra tape with documentary footage of the actual D-Day landings as well as the making of the film. The DVD was released in November of the same year, and was one of the best-selling titles of the year, with over 1.5 million units sold. The original DVD was released in two separate versions: one with Dolby Digital and the other with DTS 5.1 surround sound. Besides the different 5.1 tracks, the two DVDs are identical. The film was also issued in a very limited 2-disc Laserdisc release in November 1999, making it one of the very last feature films to ever be issued in this format, as Laserdiscs ceased manufacturing and distribution by the year's end, due in part to the growing popularity of DVDs. In 2004, a Saving Private Ryan special edition DVD was released to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day. This two-disc edition was also included in a box set titled World War II Collection, along with two documentaries produced by Spielberg, Price For Peace (about the Pacific War) and Shooting War (about war photographers, narrated by Tom Hanks). The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on April 26, 2010 in the UK and on May 4, 2010 in the US.
On Veterans Day from 2001 through 2004, the American Broadcasting Company (which held television rights to most DreamWorks films) aired the film uncut and with limited commercial interruption. The network airings were given a TV-MA rating, as the violent battle scenes and the profanity were left intact. The 2004 airing was marred by pre-emptions in many markets because of the language, in the backlash of Super Bowl XXXVIII's halftime show controversy. However, critics and veterans' groups such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars assailed those stations and their owners, including Hearst-Argyle Television (owner of 14 ABC affiliates); Scripps Howard Broadcasting (owner of eight); and Belo (the owner of four) for putting profits ahead of programming and honoring those who gave their lives at wartime, saying the stations made more money running their own programming instead of being paid by the network to carry the film, especially during a sweeps period. A total of 65 ABC affiliates—28% of the network—did not clear the available timeslot for the film, even with the offer of The Walt Disney Company, ABC's parent, to pay all fines for language to the Federal Communications Commission. In the end, however, no complaints were lodged against ABC affiliates who showed Ryan, perhaps because even conservative watchdogs like the Parents Television Council supported the unedited rebroadcast of the film.
From 2005 through 2008, TNT acquired the rights to air the film, usually airing it as ABC did on Veterans Day, complete and uncut.
* 1998 in film
* Cinema of the United States
* List of American films of 1998
* This text has been derived from Saving Private Ryan on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0