When I was 13, I took a basketball to the face. The circumstances will remain shrouded in my own mystery, but suffice to say I was a weary sight: a half shut black eye, swollen cheek, and an abrasive burn that maintained a faint hue of basketball orange. Being a self-conscious teenager, I passed on the proposition offered by my dad to catch the latest Spielberg flick, Saving Private Ryan.
Although it’s since become my favorite war film, with Platoon coming in a close second, I regretted not catching it on the big screen. The iconic 22-minute scene of Captain Miller and Charlie Co. landed on Omaha Beach is jaw-dropping, awe-inducing, and phenomenally executed with historical precision. I know there are hundreds, probably thousands of military movies available at our disposal whether it be on Hulu or in your own blu-ray collection, but I wanted to highlight Saving Private Ryan here.
It’s hard to believe that SPR was released to cinemas twenty years ago; the youthfulness of Hanks, Damon, Sizemore, Ribisi, and the rest of the All-Star cast hits you right in the nostalgic feels, as they serve as a reminder of how quickly years fall off the calendar.
But the movie’s claim to fame is much more significant than who looks like what in the 1990’s. SPR brought you into the scenes with each character, each firefight, each death. During the Omaha Beach invasion, Spielberg cast amputees as extras in the film rather than relying on unperfected CGI to simulate a limb (using the term “a” loosely here) being blown off. The film also relies on actual gunfire from weaponry that was utilized during WWII, as opposed to filtering in any old gunshot or mortar round. These small details add to the realism of the film, which was commended by critics and war veterans alike, one being James Doohan. Per IMDb.com, Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek, landed on Juno Beach on the 6th of June. He commended Spielberg for “not leaving out any gory details,” which for its time were brutal. And brutal, they were; the country of India originally refused to release the flick, until their Home Minister ordered otherwise following a personal viewing. The famous director also has stated if he had to release it under an NC-17 rating then so be it as violence was an integral part of the production.
Regarding relevancy, Saving Private Ryan does something that not many movies are capable of doing: it bridged a generational gap. D-Day was 54 years removed from the release of SPR; meaning that most of us who partook the film had no idea how terrifying, fervent, and flabbergastingly violent war really is. The intensity the movie brings when Miller’s men were being slaughtered before even getting a chance to withdraw their weapons, get out of the water, or even off the boat is unparalleled. And while we rightfully honor the men who braved the beach that day, it was the director and his own army who brought it to life and shed light on the veracity of what men endured during World War II. And twenty years after the film’s release, that feeling still resonates. Furthermore, the visuals Spielberg brought to life of events that occurred nearly 80 years ago are spectacular to witness, whether it be the scenes of Private Mellish meeting his fate in an all-too-real knife fight with a German soldier, or Medic Wade begging for morphine and yearning for his mother one final time in his waning moments… despite the heavy sadness accompanied by them.
Disaster films like 2011’s Battle Los Angeles and Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor serve as stark reminders that you can’t simply take a mammoth budget, pack a slew of stars onto the set, and expect magic to happen. Spielberg, Hanks and the entirety of their movie’s cast and crew deserve credit for creating such a realistic setting within a movie theater or living room, as they showed respect and humbleness for the war and it’s Patriots, while simultaneously educating and entertaining the masses; it suffices to say Saving Private Ryan was an instant classic.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.