“Saving Private Ryan” is a war drama film which is a very realistic and original film made in 1998 starring Tom Hanks (Captain Miller) ,Tom Sizemore (Sergeant Horvath), Edward Burns (Private Reiben),Barry Pepper (private Jackson),Jeremy Davies (Private Up ham) and Matt Damon (Private Ryan). ‘Saving Private Ryan’ last for two hours and fifty minutes; the opening battle sequence is about twenty four minutes long. It was directed by Steven Spielberg whose other famous film includes: Jaws (1975), Jurassic Park (1993) and Schindler’s List1993).
The film won five Oscars (Academy Awards). He wanted to make the film extreme realistic by showing the effect of dark and dull colours, the real nature of the battle scenes and by the use of handheld cameras. The Director said about the opening battle sequence: “I wanted to show chaos . I wanted the audience to feel the same as the soldiers at the Omaha Beach” About the use of handheld cameras: “I wanted to hit the sets much like a newsreel cameraman following soldiers into war reporting real” The film begins from the shiny present.
On the sunny mornining the old Ryan visits the grave of the U. S soldiers at Coleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, France. This a flashback to June 6th 1994 as the U. S Army prepares to land at Omaha Beach. The camera takes its first shot with bright sunlight behind the flag of America showing its glory and strength. The camera focuses at Ryan’s feet pointing down at the high angle walking towards the grave. The camera lowers to the ground level viewing the largest number of the cross reminding all what has happened.
This shot shows the whole family at their feet near the Miller’s grave, zooming in on Ryan’s face to a big close up of his eyes. Bright colours are shown till the future moves into the past. The rest of the film is dark and dull as if someone drains the colour of life. Cuts to deep focus shot of beach with a huge number of iron hedgehogs. The sound of sea waves increasing gradually. The soldiers are silent at first, the sound of engine is clear. A long shot of boats as they approach to the shore cuts to the close-up of Captain Miller’s shaking hand.
This was really original when we heard the sound of vomiting followed by the instructions clearly. The camera takes a close-up shot of the terrified soldiers waiting for the biggest disaster of their life to come. This film has a very different start as compare to other war drama films. This scene connects Ryan present to his horrible past by establishing date and settings. In addition as we see a close-up at Ryan’s eyes we can hear the film sound of a roaring sea. We (the audience) are given a brief introduction to some of the main characters in this short opening scene.
The chaos begins the moment boat door open by the soldiers. A loud sound made by the gunfire, bullets and tanks. Shouted instructions are being given by the senior soldiers. This is very real and forces us to feel the intensity of coming fear. This is a long shot as all the soldiers are shown being killed one after the other within seconds of leaving the boat. Medium and close up shots are taken of soldiers being killed. The moment the soldiers fall into the sea the handheld camera follows them showing how they struggle for their country both below and above the ground.
Muffled sound as bullet zips into the water still killing soldiers under the water. Sound softens each time when the camera sinks in the water giving soldier’s perspective. This describes the reality and originality shown by this film. Much different perspective can be overview of this disaster. The camera effect brings us more close to incident many times. German view suggests that American are fighting a lost war this describes the mission’s degree of difficulty. Everybody is confused and hopeless; we feel that no one could survive.
This shot makes the audience (we) more surprising and shocking. Captain Miller begins to lose his confidence as he comes out of the bloody sea a close up has taken at this stage of Captain Miller’s confusion. The camera is at Miller’s level that is the ground level. Slow motion and shots of Miller’s shocked expression edited alternatively with the chaos happening around him. Slow and soft film sound accompanies this shot at the same time sound of tank’s engine and bombs can be heard but at lower voice. His confusion increases by the time he thinks of his companions and country’s worst condition.
Close up at the moment he replaces his helmet full of bloody water, which splashes on his face making him look blood spattered. A young soldier shouted silently at Miller for the next instruction. Sound become noisy the moment Miller reply to the situation and come back to his senses, now we can hear the soldiers screaming and shouting. Soldier fights till their last breath considering this as their first and last obligation. This is really shocking leaving us highly disturbed emotionally when we (the audience) are pushed into the horror of D-day with Miller and experience horrible and senseless carnage through his eyes.
I think the opening sequence made the audience to feel each and every moment considering themselves as one of the soldiers at Omaha beach. This film describes each and every thing with realism and symbolism I find the opening battle scenes surprising and shocking because of the handheld camera effect and both film and non-film sound. In my opinion this is a successful war drama film as it contains all the ingredients which a war film must have in it. I think this film has hit all its tasks and achieve its aim to be known as the successful film for all times.