Saving Private Ryan (DVD)

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Saving Private Ryan (DVD)

Director Steven Spielberg's World War II tour de force chronicles the journey of a GI squad on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Led by Captain ...

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Review of "Saving Private Ryan (DVD)"

published 11/07/2011 | pmcds
Member since : 07/11/2005
Reviews : 1329
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Pro Powerful, well acted, expertly directed
Cons A bit shocking and brutal at the start
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"Are you James Francis Ryan?"

War films are everywhere, and they show no sign of abating. With Saving Private Ryan, director Steven Spielberg did something rather different with his opening scenes, and made them less about the main plot and more about the depiction of war, opening up with nearly half an hour of violence and bloodshed that attempts to give us an insight as to the sheer luck you'd have needed to make it onto the beaches of Normandy in the first place. Even Tarantino was shocked by it, describing it as terrifying, and this coming from a man keen to include as much gore and openness as possible in his films.

Yet despite these opening scenes, the main film's plot centres around a small platoon sent to retrieve the only surviving brother of four from deep within French soil, right in the heart of the fighting. It's the characters in this platoon that make this film what it is, and their reluctant acceptance of their mission as they plow across fields and through towns, avoiding and defeating groups of the enemy on their way to find one man.

Leading the platoon is Captain John Miller, played excellently by Tom Hanks, and he has a crew of instant recognition behind him, including Vin Diesel, Ed Burns, Adam Goldberg, Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribisi and Barry Pepper. They are also joined by Jeremy Edwards as a reluctant translator. The group work very well together, showing the camaradery a group needs to have to survive in a war torn country they're not familiar with.

What I liked about the film was the way it doesn't just deal with the battle scenes as if it comes naturally to those involved. While I don't suppose for a moment killing people comes easily to anyone, even in a war situation, it mustn't be forgotten that the majority of these soldiers sent abroad to fight for their country did so at the last minute, being trained up quickly with a necessity to be sent to the front line. Many saw no combat before being killed, others wanted it to be over so they could get back home to their day job. This is portrayed quite well in the film, with many of the platoon talking about what they do back home. It's also impressive to see the reality of combat, particularly one knife fight towards the end of the film, showing that the people on both sides of the war are in the same situation, struggling to fight for their lives, and willing to fight desperately to do so.

It's a long film, added to by the very long introductory scene which sets the mood and wakes you up, giving you a good chunk of time with seeing the devastation to human lives that the war could do, before showing the humanity of trying to save one man so a mother doesn't lose all four sons at the same time. It's a small mercy, but one that is played on heavily and shows that within all the violence and death, an ounce of humanity can have a lasting and thoughtful result. The soldiers in the platoon question the decision regularly, wondering why all of their lives should be risked for one individual, but they do as they are bid nonetheless. The final scene of the film is one that highlights the importance of a legacy, and this is to show you why it's worth it.

I thought this a marvellously presented and acted film. All involved did a sterling job, and I have been amazed each time I have watched it. Hanks has gone on to spend a decent amount of his time with portraying the events of various wars, mainly the Second World War, where this is set. TV series such as Band of Brothers and The Pacific show the brutalities but also the harsh realities outside of the war at the time, and Hanks has his stamp on them. Here, his acting role is excellent, and it's quite a surprise when you find out what he does at home. The others also support very well, with a nod going to Matt Damon as Ryan.

Spielberg controls things very well indeed, making sure things don't drag but also giving us an open and arresting insight into the horrors of war. It's not for the faint hearted in many ways, although there are more powerful and violent films out there. Saving Private Ryan opens up a lot of the terrifying nature, but beyond the first half an hour, nothing much else is likely to shock you quite the same. Expertly directed, he deserved to pick up an Academy Award for Best Director, and the film certainly deserved all the awards it has gathered. Highly recommended.

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Comments on this review

  • RICHADA published 12/07/2011
    A modern classic in this case, a very good review here too. R.
  • chrisandmark_is_here published 11/07/2011
    I still haven't seen this - my cousin had the rude one recently though. pmsl! x
  • catsholiday published 11/07/2011
    It was a bit smaltzy but a well acted film with a good story
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Product Information : Saving Private Ryan (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Director Steven Spielberg's World War II tour de force chronicles the journey of a GI squad on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks), the unit is under orders to track down a soldier, Private Ryan (Matt Damon), so he might return home to his mother in America, where she is grieving the unimaginable loss of her three other sons to the war. The first unforgettable 20 minutes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN realistically and horrifically depicts the Normandy invasion as Miller. his second-in-command, Sergeant Horvath (Tom Sizemore), and the others in the unit land at Omaha Beach. Before the film began shooting, Hanks and the actors in his squad went through a one-week boot camp in the woods. All the actors, except Hanks, wanted to quit, but Hanks rallied their spirits by reminding them of the incredible tribulations endured by the real veterans of World War II. Production designer Tom Sanders found a beach in Ireland that perfectly matched the landscape of Normandy's. Spielberg gave great credit to the Irish army who helped re-create the Omaha Beach scenes.

Product Details

Video Category: Feature Film

Production Year: 1998

Plot: A war epic which tells the story of four brothers from the same family who are all fighting in the Second World War. On Washington's orders Captain Miller is sent behind enemy lines to bring back the sole surviving brother, Private Ryan. Winner of five Academy Awards.

Country Of Origin: United States of America

Classification: 15 years and over

Genre: War

Colour: Colour

Director(s): Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg

Actor(s): Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Edward Burns, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, Adam Goldberg, Jeremy Davies, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Edward Burns, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, Adam Goldberg, Jeremy Davies, Paul Giamatti

Release Details

DVD Region: DVD


Catalogue No: PHE 8600, PHE 8362, PHE 8040

Barcode: 5014437860033, 5014437836236, 5014437804037

No of Discs: 2, 1

Release date: 01/11/2004, 01/09/2003, 06/11/2000

Executive Producer: Gary Levinsohn, Steven Spielberg

Featured: Steven Spielberg

Editor: Michael Kahn, Michael Kahn

Screenwriter: Robert Rodat, Steven Spielberg, Robert Rodat

Producer: Mark Gordon, Ian Bryce, Gary Levinsohn, Steven Spielberg, Mark Gordon, Ian Bryce, Gary Levinsohn, Steven Spielberg

Production Designer: Thomas Sanders, Thomas Sanders

Director of Photography: Janusz Kaminski, Janusz Kaminski

Composer: John Williams, John Williams, John Williams

Special Effects: Neil Corbould, Stefen Fangmeier, Roger Guyett


Main Language: English

Subtitle Language: English

Hearing Impaired Language: English

Technical Information

Dubbing Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1<br>Dolby Digital Surround<br>DTS, DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 English

Special Features: An Inside Look With The Filmmakers, Looking Into The Past The research The Screenplay And The Vision, The Making Of A Platoon, Boot Camp For The Cast, Recreating DDay Omaha Beach

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround, DTS

Aspect Ratio: 1.78 Anamorphic Wide Screen, 16:9 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Award Information

OSCAR: Best Director 1999 (Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg)

BAFTA: Best Achievement In Special Effects 1998 (Stefen Fangmeier, Roger Guyett, Neil Corbould)

Professional Reviews

Review: Ranked #3 in Entertainment Weekly's "10 Favorite Films of the '90s" -- "...[A] masterpiece....One soul-shattering experience..." (Entertainment Weekly, 2000-04-01)<br><br>Ranked #3 in Entertainment Weekly's "10 Favorite Films of the '90s" -- "...[A] masterpiece....One soul-shattering experience..." (Entertainment Weekly, pp.159-60, 01/04/2000)<br><br>...Unprecedented immediacy [in] the battle scenes....Uniformly superb performances... (Movieline, 1999-06-01)<br><br>"...Unprecedented immediacy [in] the battle scenes....Uniformly superb performances..." (Movieline, p.91, 01/06/1999)<br><br>...Soberly magnificent....It is the ultimate devastating letter home... (New York Times, 1998-07-24)<br><br>"...Soberly magnificent....It is the ultimate devastating letter home..." (New York Times, p.E14, 24/07/1998)<br><br>...Sheer gut-wrenching immediacy....[Spielberg] has come of age as an artist... (Sight and Sound, 1998-09-01)<br><br>"...Sheer gut-wrenching immediacy....[Spielberg] has come of age as an artist..." (Sight and Sound, p.34-52, 01/09/1998)<br><br>


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