Steven Spielberg’s tale of a group of soldiers who risk their lives to go behind enemy lines and send a paratrooper home that already has lost three other siblings in combat. Saving Privet Ryan is known for its brutally realistic and horrid action sequences and most famously for having the first twenty minutes of the film showing the D Day landing. It beautifully portrays, first time in cinema history, how it felt to be in the boats with the soldiers in the Normandy Invasion of Omaha Beach.
Most war genre movies start off with some action but usually it is only to establishment to the audience who the enemy is and these sequences too often only last for a few minutes. For example Randall Wallace’s 2002 We Were Soldiers shows the slaughter of the a French unit on patrol in Vietnam in 1954 suddenly getting ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army forces. However the most defining and memorable sequence to me out of all war movies that I have seen, is the opening invasion in Saving Privet Ryan. The brutal battle sequences is almost too horrid to bear and it is the most disturbing and most realistic look at the D Day landings at Omaha beach.
Now if you know your history you should know that June 6th 1944 was the D Day landing. Allied bombers were meant to destroy the vast German fortifications that lined the cliffs where the invasion was going to take place. Due to bad weather and cloud coverage most planes missed their target and the next morning thousands of American soldiers stormed the heavily fortified French shores.
The film opens with protagonist Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) on a landing craft full of terrified, vomiting and seasick soldiers approaching Omaha Beach, unaware that a barrage of intense machine gun, mortar and artillery fire awaits them. When the landing craft open their flaps a storm of bullets rain down on the unprotected troops. Imagine witnessing a boat with fifty men being killed in seconds by a bombardment of terrifying machine gun fire. Through the prospective of Miller with witness; fragments of brains fly into his face, stemming in guts and showered in blood and human flesh. We don’t witness an invasion but rather a massacre. The hand held shaky camera creates a brilliant and horrifying prospective of Miller’s journey to the beach head.