Retro Review: Saving Private Ryan

By: Emily Kellas

Rating: 9 out of 10

There is no way in which we civilians can truly understand the amount of sacrifice and courage seen by the hero’s we honor this upcoming Memorial Day. So as you sit down to your cookout or revel in the fanfare of a parade, lets remember why we celebrate, the men and women who have given so much to protect us back home. This week’s retro review is Saving Private Ryan, a World War II film that has been named one of the best and most accurate war films ever shot. Though no movie could put to film the horrors, and loss suffered, Saving Private Ryan’s director Steven Spielberg manages to put his audience in the middle of not only the action, but the emotional realities of war.

After landing on the beaches of Normandy, Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) and a group from the 2nd Ranger Battalion are sent across enemy lines to secure and retrieve Private Ryan (Matt Damon) whose three brothers have all recently died in battle. In order to help alleviate some of Mrs. Ryan’s grief after getting all three death telegrams, the government decides to grant a special opportunity for the last surviving brother, Private Ryan, to come home to his mother. The group remains conflicted about their task as they roam the dangerous hills ofFrance knowing that the enemy could spot them at anytime.

Saving Private Ryan is a beautifully shot film, but what makes it an outstanding film is perhaps not so much its technical aspects but the story and characters that it follows. Each member of the elite group has their own personality from the meek interpreter to the outspoken Private Reiben (Edward Burns) and of course the man who holds them all together Captain Miller, a strong goal oriented man whose mystery and small hand tremor give him depth. When Private Ryan is found, Matt Damon is able to play the multiple emotions that must wash over an individual with that kind of news including the courageous decision to stay with his unit to finish out an order.

With that said, the film is classically shot, but what set it apart from other war based films, are the movies opening scenes depicting the landing on the beaches ofNormandy,France. The use of slow motion and muffled sound puts you directly in the mind and environment of a solider facing an almost certain death as they crawl up the beaches fighting off enemy fire. Honestly, this moment, and the films ending scenes make me cry every time as I envision my grandfather (a WWII veteran, who stormed the beaches ofNormandy) put in the place of Captain Miller, looking directly into the face of evil, and forcing through it, all so I could have my freedom.

This film manages to do what so many couldn’t, connect the reality, to the fiction, and making not only an entertaining film, but one that can teach generations to come. So this Memorial Day remember those who have given their lives for ours, in the past, the present, and the future. And if you are looking for a film to remind you of all that has been given up, and sacrificed, watch Saving Private Ryan, an excellent war film, and one that is guaranteed to make you appreciative for all our armed forces do.


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