Defending Private Ryan

Defending Private Ryan

Ask somebody what Saving Private Ryan is about, and the most common replies are probably variations of "the horror of war" - but that's not true, at least in any direct fashion.

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Been so long since I've seen this film.

I was named after my grandfather who fought in D-Day.

The sheer size of his family lead us to call this movie "Saving Ryan's Privates".

Saving Private Ryan is a fondly remembered movie. I don't think it's a classic. The only thing most people will remember is the battle of D-Day at the beginning of the movie. I am honestly hard pressed to remember any scene or dialogue in the movie beyond that one.

As for the mission that makes up the plot of the story, I am still torn whether that was a mission worth carrying out. I understand that was something that the military did for soldiers. I believe it's called the hardship clause. Movie-wise, I thought the post-D-Day scene, it was a kind of a meandering travel movie that featured a bunch of soldiers.

While I do not take it as truth, a film analyst has crafted a pretty convincing argument that the film is subtle pro war propaganda. He also acknowledges that it is at the very least accidental.

KissingSunlight:
Saving Private Ryan is a fondly remembered movie. I don't think it's a classic. The only thing most people will remember is the battle of D-Day at the beginning of the movie. I am honestly hard pressed to remember any scene or dialogue in the movie beyond that one.

In no particular order:
The scene were Doc Wade bleeds out, while realizing he can not save himself.
The scene just following that when the squad wants to shoot a PoW and Miller reveals his background.
The scene where they find a Private Ryan and tell him his brothers are dead, only it is the wrong Ryan.
The scene where Caparzo "adopts" a civilian girl and gets shot by a sniper and bleeds out while his friends are unable to reach him.
The scene where the squad starts looking through dog tags from killed paratroopers and start "playing poker" with them, while a long line of wounded paratroopers watch them in silent disdain.
The scenes where Reiben is impaled on his own knife by a German while Upham is too scared to go into the room and save him and later when Upham kills the same German soldier when he tries to surrender.

Saving Private Ryan should be a classic, because it is a movie where every scene has something significant to tell us about the characters, the story or the war and is a deliberation some aspect of war and sacrifice. It manages to also be a movie both about the horror of war and about the debt we owe those that fight on our behalf, irregardless of if we ask them to or not

Gethsemani:

The scenes where Reiben is impaled on his own knife by a German while Upham is too scared to go into the room and save him and later when Upham kills the same German soldier when he tries to surrender.

I just want to point out that these are not the same soldiers and are played by two different actors, Joerg Stadler and Mac Steinmeier.

Gethsemani:
The scenes where Reiben is impaled on his own knife by a German

Ultra pedantic Englishman incoming.

Reiben survives the movie, it's Mellish that gets stabbed and it's about the most horrific scene in the movie.

Although the one that's sticks with me is Ryan and Miller talking about Ryan's brothers, Ryan can't picture their faces until Miller tells him to contextualise it by remembering something they all did together. The first things that pops into Ryan's head is the last day they were all together, it's a hilarious and sad image he comes up with all at the same time.

Ever since I heard it I've liked Nick Hodges's take on Miller's final words, treating them as a mandate to the audience to remember and to try, even for a moment, to understand and empathize with people who were involved with what every historian, economist, politician and most of the rest of the world recognize as the worst fucking thing ever. "Earn this" becomes, in that context, a lot more personal for the viewer, who was probably just watching the movie up to that point.

Gethsemani:

KissingSunlight:
Saving Private Ryan is a fondly remembered movie. I don't think it's a classic. The only thing most people will remember is the battle of D-Day at the beginning of the movie. I am honestly hard pressed to remember any scene or dialogue in the movie beyond that one.

In no particular order:
The scene were Doc Wade bleeds out, while realizing he can not save himself.
The scene just following that when the squad wants to shoot a PoW and Miller reveals his background.
The scene where they find a Private Ryan and tell him his brothers are dead, only it is the wrong Ryan.
The scene where Caparzo "adopts" a civilian girl and gets shot by a sniper and bleeds out while his friends are unable to reach him.
The scene where the squad starts looking through dog tags from killed paratroopers and start "playing poker" with them, while a long line of wounded paratroopers watch them in silent disdain.
The scenes where Reiben is impaled on his own knife by a German while Upham is too scared to go into the room and save him and later when Upham kills the same German soldier when he tries to surrender.

Saving Private Ryan should be a classic, because it is a movie where every scene has something significant to tell us about the characters, the story or the war and is a deliberation some aspect of war and sacrifice. It manages to also be a movie both about the horror of war and about the debt we owe those that fight on our behalf, irregardless of if we ask them to or not

I vaguely remember a couple of those scenes that you mentioned. I have seen it a couple of times. Once in a theater and once on TV. The movie is not bad. It's just not that memorable.

That knife scene will never leave me. Not only was it one of the most brutal things I've seen on screen but it presents us a glimpse into our own psyche and how our emotions taint our view of things.

The younger me cheered when Upham shot the surrendering German soldier. I wasn't even sure if it was the same soldier but someone had to pay for that horrible act! It was gratifying at the time... But even if it was the right soldier did he deserve it?

If it had been the American soldier that won and slowly, brutally stabbed the German we would have shrugged it off as another horrible act forced on an otherwise good person. But because it was the 'other' we are filled with hatred... like it's something he did on purpose; suddenly it's okay to blame him for it. And subsequently you feel fulfilled when he 'gets what he deserves'. Just ignore the fact that he spared Upham on his way out; wouldn't want you to think too much about his humanity before you cheer shooting him in the head.

KissingSunlight:

Gethsemani:

KissingSunlight:
Saving Private Ryan is a fondly remembered movie. I don't think it's a classic. The only thing most people will remember is the battle of D-Day at the beginning of the movie. I am honestly hard pressed to remember any scene or dialogue in the movie beyond that one.

In no particular order:
The scene were Doc Wade bleeds out, while realizing he can not save himself.
The scene just following that when the squad wants to shoot a PoW and Miller reveals his background.
The scene where they find a Private Ryan and tell him his brothers are dead, only it is the wrong Ryan.
The scene where Caparzo "adopts" a civilian girl and gets shot by a sniper and bleeds out while his friends are unable to reach him.
The scene where the squad starts looking through dog tags from killed paratroopers and start "playing poker" with them, while a long line of wounded paratroopers watch them in silent disdain.
The scenes where Reiben is impaled on his own knife by a German while Upham is too scared to go into the room and save him and later when Upham kills the same German soldier when he tries to surrender.

Saving Private Ryan should be a classic, because it is a movie where every scene has something significant to tell us about the characters, the story or the war and is a deliberation some aspect of war and sacrifice. It manages to also be a movie both about the horror of war and about the debt we owe those that fight on our behalf, irregardless of if we ask them to or not

I vaguely remember a couple of those scenes that you mentioned. I have seen it a couple of times. Once in a theater and once on TV. The movie is not bad. It's just not that memorable.

"For you". Why people always forget these simple words as if their word is law is something I'll never quite comprehend.

He just said about a dozen scenes from the top of his head. Just because you don't find it memorable doesn't mean the majority doesn't. As such, calling a movie like Saving Private Ryan "not memorable" in intellectually dishonest.

I wish a lot of FPS Military Themed games had a lot more focus on the chacraters and their interactions with each other like Saving Private Ryan.

The one game that comes close was Halo Reach and its Spartan III Noble Team:

But the team was sadly underdeveloped because most of the game barely spends any time with them.

Most of the missions barely has the entire team together.

I keep coming back to it as I write a screenplay based on veterans and the Spanish Civil War. A fantastic film, tackling morality and debt to those who didn't make it. The beach and the climatic struggle are constructed incredibly well.

I'm interested to hear if you saw Stalingrad (1993) and your thoughts on it. I've heard the arguments that it was a Wehrmacht apologist product but I found the perspective of the German soldiers in the 'Rat War' a nice change of pace.

If I had less existing student debt, I'd seriously consider getting a Degree in Military History myself. Researching it, writing on it and respecting what people went through in the worst conditions has been something of a fixation for me ever since High School. It certainly has given me a great appreciation for the peace we have and should strive to preserve.

JamesStone:
"For you". Why people always forget these simple words as if their word is law is something I'll never quite comprehend.

He just said about a dozen scenes from the top of his head. Just because you don't find it memorable doesn't mean the majority doesn't. As such, calling a movie like Saving Private Ryan "not memorable" in intellectually dishonest.

Why must people feel compelled to pull a Dude and be all "Well, that's just like, your opinion, man." It's film. It's subjective. I think we can assume that this person means "IMO" without having to sign every post off on it. This kind of pedantry is something I'll never quite comprehend.

I think that Saving Private Ryan is an important film but let's be realistic here: the violence is a lot of what makes it memorable. All of the talking and all of the bits in between that aren't the final battle or DDay are mostly forgettable, if you ask me.

This is probably an unpopular opinion but I actually though Fury was a more interesting war film. In Saving Private Ryan, we get a better appreciation for the hell that soldiers go/went through but in Fury we got the chance to see the same sort of impact on civilians and I think that is important to remember that in any war situations, civilians (especially children and other vulnerable groups) are the first to suffer and the ones who suffer the most. There were bits involving civilians in Saving Private Ryan IIRC but they were't especially prominent. There are probably even better examples than Fury that tackle the same subject matter but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

a) why does Saving Private Ryan need defending?

2. who are these people that you speak of who think it depicts the "horrors of war"?

Zulnam:
a) why does Saving Private Ryan need defending?

2. who are these people that you speak of who think it depicts the "horrors of war"?

Those would be direct questions, so...

This particular installment came about because of a discussion by Alex Steacy and Cameron Lauder on Talking Simulator (I don't remember offhand which episode), where they criticized the movie for having a simplistic "war is hell" message/theme. When I did my research stage for it, I found that the most important parts of the movie (the framing device that actually delivers the message) were mainly being written off as a misstep by critics.

(Hopefully that covers it and answers your questions in a helpful manner.)

Robert B. Marks:

This particular installment came about because of a discussion by Alex Steacy and Cameron Lauder on Talking Simulator (I don't remember offhand which episode), where they criticized the movie for having a simplistic "war is hell" message/theme. When I did my research stage for it, I found that the most important parts of the movie (the framing device that actually delivers the message) were mainly being written off as a misstep by critics.

(Hopefully that covers it and answers your questions in a helpful manner.)

Thanks, it does. Seemed strange since, besides being a liked movie of mine, I've rarely heard it being put off in a negative light.

To those two I would recommend watching Apocalypse Now / Full Metal Jacket / Platoon and then reviewing their thoughts. SPR's war is tame by comparison.

KissingSunlight:
Saving Private Ryan is a fondly remembered movie. I don't think it's a classic. The only thing most people will remember is the battle of D-Day at the beginning of the movie. I am honestly hard pressed to remember any scene or dialogue in the movie beyond that one.

As for the mission that makes up the plot of the story, I am still torn whether that was a mission worth carrying out. I understand that was something that the military did for soldiers. I believe it's called the hardship clause. Movie-wise, I thought the post-D-Day scene, it was a kind of a meandering travel movie that featured a bunch of soldiers.

I saw it in the Theater and was wowed but I think it more a matter of re watchability. I loved it, I recall quite a bit, like Ed Burns asking, "why are we several guys risking our lives to try to save 1 guy?" and Vin Diesel and the kid that didn't want to talk to his mom when e could have and wondered why and the kid who wanted to follow the rules and the sniper... lot of great moments but I don't think I've fully watched it in a decade. Arguably not rewathable.

Saving Private Ryan really feels like the testbed for what would become Band of Brothers, which I think is the far superior of the two European Theater focused Spielberg/Tom Hanks collaborations.

Robert B. Marks:
It wasn't the only high-profile war movie to come out in 1998 - Terence Malik's The Thin Red Line was its direct competitor, and these two were soon joined by the likes of Enemy at the Gates. But of all these war movies, Saving Private Ryan is the only one that hasn't been reduced to a footnote over the years.

Since when was Malick's existential, borderline experimental return to filmmaking after twenty years a "direct competitor" to a mass market Steven Spielberg film? A cursory glance at the two film's trailers would reveal they have little common ground. If a comparison was drawn at the time, it was made in ignorance.

Calling The Thin Red Line a "footnote" (a key film in one of the greatest living director's line-up's) also seems wide of the mark. A footnote in the populist view? Sure, but then that rather contradicts the "direct competitor" comparison.

I personally remember Saving Private Ryan as a fairly clumsy, conventional film marred by Spielberg's typical and simple sentimentalism (I was never keen on Tom Hanks, either[1], which didn't help my enjoyment) - being only notable for its technological accomplishments and some of its photography. Granted, I've not seen it in over a decade, perhaps, so my thoughts may've changed (I actually loathed The Thin Red Line when it first came out, and did a complete one-eighty years later), but profound Spielberg ain't, and I very much doubt it could affect me in the way Malick's work has.

It's the only title that has become traditional TV faire - the violence uncut, no less - on Remembrance Day...

To me that seems rather ghoulish. Or appropriate, given the simplicity of how certain cultures (my own included) remember war and bloodshed.

Soviet Heavy:
Saving Private Ryan really feels like the testbed for what would become Band of Brothers, which I think is the far superior of the two European Theater focused Spielberg/Tom Hanks collaborations.

I'd need to see SPR again to truly say, but yeah, Band Of Brothers was/is incredible - and that did stay with me (enough to buy it and watch it through several times over the years).

[1] Road To Perdition's pretty much my only exception, and even then I feel other actors could've done a better job with the role.

To be fair, wasn't "Come and See" more horrifying?

Apart from that I am amazed that people, critics no less, thought that those scenes were misstep.

This is why Literature is mandatory people, to avoid BS like that :P

First, I did not think Saving Private Ryan needed defending.

Second, the intro and outro scenes of Saving Private Ryan are both brilliant and make me cry like a little bitch every time. Even thinking about them has me welling up, but I'm also military. There are oodles of movies that do a great job of showing the horrors of war. But Saving Private Ryan is one of the few movies that does a great job of showing the yearning for purpose in subjecting oneself to the horrors of war.

Excuse me, gonna go cry now.

Saving Private Ryan is one of my favourite movies to hate. I appreciate that it is a very well made movie from every technical standpoint and I can appreciate the first act for it's (especially for the time it was made) unusually gruesome visuals.

What makes me hate this movie though, is how it hides inside an anti war movie, but is actually a pro war movie. By being as gruesome as it is during it's first act, I makes us believe that it condemns violence and that it wants to show us that war is a pointless exercise in death. But as the movie progresses it becomes a more standard story of honor and duty. It shows Miller and his men starting out as pragmatic soldiers, but at the end they agree to defend the bridge out of duty. By this time the movie tells us that their sacrifice is motivated and that their deaths have a purpose. Which I believe is wrong.

This shift in what it wants to say about war is a very sly and dangerous message. By saying that sacrifice in war have a meaning, it becomes somewhat of a propaganda film, in the style of "Why we fight". And the fact that it made us believe that it was an anti war movie, makes us less prepared to scrutinize it. We know what message "Black Hawk Down" has from the start, so we know what to expect, but not here.

Also, the movie's lack of finesse doesn't help the feeling of being hit over the head with an agenda. In the scene where we see that the (evil) german soldier has broken his promise and returned to fighting, he looks exactly the same as he did days before, he hasn't even put on a hat or a helmet, just to make sure we recognize him. Very subtle.

One of my favourite war movies is actually "Hamburger Hill", not because it's such a fantastic movie, but because it's message is clear: You are gun fodder and fight and die for some shitty hill in the jungle. That's all war is.

Yes, i didn't like it either.

Aside from the D-Day scene which was good but not that memorably it felt often more like a stupid propaganda film. Full of American pathos with faceless and incompetent German enemies except for the one made recognizable so he can be seen as dishnest and deserving of the execution after surrendering he gets.

meh. Enemy at the gates was full of clichees and strange exxagerations but better. But i prefer something like Tora! Tora! Tora! to both.

 

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