1 Year, 100 Movies: #71 Saving Private Ryan (1998)

A70-6280For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Saving Private Ryan. What can I say? I’m torn, on one hand it’s a very intense, well made movie- but on the other hand it’s a hard movie to watch. For much of the film- especially the first 25 minutes or so of the movie, you’re just watching pure violence. The movie begins the morning of June 6, 1944 at Omaha Beach, and the bloodbath is just never ending. I was happily surprised to find out Spielberg shot this part of the movie purely reacting on the actor’s portrayal of the events- he didn’t do any story-boarding whatsoever.

I appreciate the scene where the woman discovers that three brothers have perished in the war- and the moment they find there is a fourth brother who could still be alive. But then this is where the film looses me a little. I do like the idea that they would go after the last son for the sake of his mother- but if the point of the first part of the movie is that war can be senseless, why would such a mission exist? What about the families of all of the men trying to find Private Ryan? It’s a fine line to walk. The elusive Private Ryan doesn’t come into play until near the end of the movie, but Matt Damon is brilliant as the grieving brother who just wants to stay to help his brothers in the field- and is truly sorry for the losses sustained from the men finding him.

There are a few critics of this film- mostly from those who like I don’t fully agree with the idea of risking so many lives for one man since really, they are all equals. Others do not like that it was filmed in 1998, so long after the end of the war- when  we were able to have historical perspective and a less ‘clouded’ vision. I don’t fully agree with that angle, since I believe if you’re going to make a film about a war, there is worth in seeing it from a current perspective as well as one that has waited a few years to better understand the situation. On the flip side I’ve also seen examples of WWII veterans who say it that this film is the most realistic depiction of war they have ever seen in film.

Overall I’d say it’s a well made, entertaining movie with good acting, but it can be overly sentimental and very violent. I could do with more character development in the beginning of the film. Acting-wise, Matt Damon is the clear winner, but Tom Hanks and many of the supporting actors are great as well. I would love for Spielberg to make another war movie- perhaps based of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan- and focus on one man in a typical, but perhaps heroic circumstance. Now that would really be an epic movie.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

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One response to “1 Year, 100 Movies: #71 Saving Private Ryan (1998)

  1. Pingback: 1 Year, 100 Movies: #8 Schindler’s List (1993) | thegreentreeischirping

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