After the indelible opening sequence, however, the film is not without problems. The story, though based on an American Civil War incident, feels like it was concocted simply to fuel Spielberg's sentimental streak. In standard Hollywood fashion the Germans remain a faceless foe (with the exception of one charmless character who turns out to be both a coward and a turncoat); and the Tom Hanks-led platoon consists of far too many stereotypes: the doughty Sergeant; the thick-necked Private; the Southern man religious sniper; the cowardly Corporal. Matt Damon seems improbably clean-cut as the titular Private in need of rescue (though that may well be the point); and why do they all run straight up that hill towards an enemy machine gun post anyway? Some non-US critics have complained that Ryan portrays only the American D-Day experience, but it is an American film made and financed by Americans after all. Accepting both its relatively narrow remit and its lachrymose inclinations, Saving Private Ryan deserves its place in the pantheon of great war pictures.
On the DVD: Saving Private Ryan on disc comes in a good-quality anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer with a suitably dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix in which bullets fly all around your living room. Extra features are pretty minimal, with a standard 30-minute "making of" piece called "Into the Breach" and two trailers. There are text notes on the cast and crew as well as the production, and a brief message from Mr Spielberg himself about why he decided to make the movie. --Mark Walker
Many people have argued that this film only portrays the American side of D-Day, neglecting the contribution of the troops from other Allied nations. Whilst this is true, Omaha beach and the areas featured in this film were areas attacked by predominantly American troops, and to feature the entire Normandy area of operations would overly complicate the story. The scene showing Omaha beach after the battle, with the sea flowing red with all the blood spilt, is particularly poignant and brings a lump to the throat of everyone who sees it.
I recently watched this film with my grandfather, who landed on the British 'Gold' beach in one of the first waves ashore on June 6th 1944. He watched the first 20 minutes of the film, which depicts the D-Day landings, with tears in his eyes as the memories of that day flooded back. While he got through that day unharmed, a number of his friends and comrades were not so fortunate. The film transported him back 57 years, and he said that this is the closest you can get to the reality of the landings without actually being in a landing craft and coming under fire.
Saving Private Ryan aptly demonstrates the horror and chaos of battle. After watching this film I found myself with a new found sense of respect for those young men who were thrust into the Hell of World War 2 and still carry those memories as pensioners. Stunning, moving, compelling, and deserving of all the accolades it gets.
However, you probably wouldn't buy a film like this for the features. You would buy it for the intense, unrivalled and spellbinding combat sequences - most notably the acclaimed D-Day landing recreation. But it doesn't stop there. Spielberg takes us into a debate about the war through the eyes of eight stereotypical soldiers (although nonetheless powerful or resonating for it). The soldiers lay the different views, reasons and arguments before the audience about the war that were shared by so many at the time.
The film climaxes in what can only be described as a brilliant battle between the platoon in peril and Nazi tanks and infantry. The film is improved with the DTS soundtrack, which completely immerses you into the experience. This is a great transfer onto DVD of a great film.
The extras too on this 2-disc release are good, documenting well each aspect of the making of the film. Altogether, a worthy treatment of what has been often called the greatest war film ever made!
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