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100 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2001
Spielberg has broken from the norm with this film and has the courage to depict war as it really is. Previous war films have been heavily sanitised to 'protect' the viewer, and Saving Private Ryan acts as a wake up call to the public, especially to myself and the younger generation, who have never experienced a major conflict in our lifetime. This film acts as an antidote to the traditional John Wayne style war movie. War is not fun, and this film removes the myth that when a soldier is shot, they fall to the floor quietly and lie still. Some of the injuries suffered by the soldiers are truly horrific but the level of violence is not gratuitous and is necessary as it adds to the level of realism.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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Saving Private Ryan gives a million reason why no one should go to war and one very powerful reason to go to war. It is a soul numbing realistic depiction of what our grandfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers and sons have faced in humanities darkest moments. Not just in WWII but in any war. No one can see this movie without being altered in some way. No one should miss it with the exception of those war veterans that have already been there. The surround sound puts the audience in the middle of the battle.

Steven Spielberg has out done himself and effectively held up a mirror to civilization for events to which we should all be ashamed of, rather than appalled at the movie for its real life depictions. I suggest that this movie be made standard view for all world leaders each and every time the question of war comes up. This movie would not stop future wars but I would hope the objectives would be much more clearly defined.

On Omaha Beach in France, a GI lurches about, desperately looking for something he has lost. He spots it and picks it up. It is his arm, blown off at the elbow by shrapnel. This is just one of the many images of horror glimpsed through the water, smoke and endless gunfire in the stunning D Day landing sequence that comes early on in director Steven Spielberg's masterful and moving new movie about World War II, Saving Private Ryan. It is this extended (24 minutes) bloody battle sequence, in which handheld camera work contributes to a terrifying you-are-there feel, that sets the tone for the movie. Men are mowed down, the ocean turns red, and the noise and slaughter never stop.

Trying to stay alive through all this madness is Capt. John Miller (Hanks; see story on page 80) and his men. Those who survive D Day are handed another mission: Go behind enemy lines and find Private Ryan (Damon), whose three brothers have all been killed in combat. The orders are to get him out and send him home. "Where's the sense of risking the eight of us to save one guy?" grouses one of Hanks's men.

His question is at the movie's core. Why fight at all? What does any one man owe another? And was it all worth it? Helped by a thoughtful script by Robert Rodat, a performance by Hanks so carefully considered and so quietly right that the man should have received an Oscar instead of the paltry nomination, exceptional work by the rest of the ensemble cast, Ryan raises all these issues. The answers the movie provides are never pat, jingoistic responses about country and duty but rather more complicated ones about friends, family and simple decency. After seeing Ryan, many of us will look at our aging fathers or grandfathers with a newfound respect. And ponder what we, as individuals and as a nation, are doing today to justify the sacrifices those men made on our behalf more than half a century ago.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2005
Saving Private Ryan finally gets the treatment it deserves with this superior DVD release, now complete with a DTS soundtrack. The special features on the discs are minimal, with only a few trailers and some notes; but there is an interesting, if not fascinating documentary on the making of the film which includes interviews with D-Day veterans.
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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67 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2010
Right let me just clear this up once and for all.
This is an excellent Blu Ray transfer and the Audio is absolutely amazing. The problem people are having when reviewing this picture quality is that Stephen Spielberg purposely filmed it in a grainy, smeared and soft way to try and make it more vintage and authentic. If you dont believe me then check the original DVD too as a comparison.
Do not expect the kind of picture you would get with Avatar!!!
Amazing film
Amazing Blu Ray

Here endeth the lesson :)
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2010
My copy arrived today (24th April) and I've just watched it.

I can honestly say it's quite the experience on BluRay and a definite improvement from the DVD. Never one to short change us, this two disc set also contains special features from BOTH DVD releases.

The picture itself can be a little soft at times, but only very infrequently. On the whole it's a very well presented picture. Plenty of detail, some little bits and pieces I'd only noticed upon watching this version, and this is my favourite film. The colours have been altered ever so slightly and are much richer, but I think that's largely because there's much more resolution with HD.

The DTS-HD soundtrack is phenomenal. I've heard this film in standard NICAM on VHS, Dolby 5.1 on the original DVD release and in DTS on the 60th Anniversary 2-disc re-release. The HD soundtrack presented on this feature blows all these out the water and it's almost formidable in it's power. It's aggressive, but never overbearing. Dialogue is clear and consistent throughout and the rear channels get a thorough working over.

If you've got any precious trinkets on mantlepieces or shelves I'd glue them down, as the LFE on this will shake, rattle and roll the plaster of the walls with enough volume. If you have neighbours, and you like them, best forewarn before watching. If you don't like your neighbours, or are detached (like me) crank this up and get in the war.

In summary, an excellent addition to the collection and worth every penny. If I could give it ten stars I would, as it's also my favourite film ever!
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2005
Saving Private Ryan starts with the depiction of the disaster that fell upon the landing United States troops on the 6th of June 1944 during D-Day at Omaha Beach. Under Steven Spielberg the scenes from Omaha Beach are powerful and deeply moving. That other famous D-Day film, The Longest Day, wrongly depicted the GIs landing at Omaha Beach and running to the enemy emplacements, but Saving Private Ryan shows it as it really happened. Unlike many of the other beaches on D-Day the pre-bombing of the German emplacements at Omaha Beach had failed to destroy the defenders, so they were able to rain down on the landing forces murderous fire. Getting across Omaha Beach is shown in all it's moving drama, with casualties mounting every second. Just watching it makes you wonder how anybody was able to reach the German positions at all. Yet they did and eventually they secured the beach. The depiction of realistic battle scenes from the start of Saving Private Ryan should make anyone aware that this film is not for those who are squeamish.
Following these landings the film takes up the story of finding Private Ryan. Tom Hanks leads a platoon of men, sent by the top brass to locate Ryan and bring him back safely. Tom Hanks is outstanding in this film, effectively presenting a man from a simple background thrown into the heat of battle, leading other men who have seen action in one theatre of war after another. Now they find themselves in France – veteran soldiers following orders and trying to stay alive. The second half of the film may be more sedate than the first frenetic scenes, but the gritty determination of these war veterans carrying out their orders is presented clinically and effectively. Steven Spielberg's direction throughout makes the viewer feel that they are right there witnessing the action beside the soldiers. Indeed you have to remind yourself sometimes that you are not there but safely away from the dangerous action.
The quality of this 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition DVD is very good indeed. The colour of the film is a cross between colour and black and white, which seems to suit the mood of the whole unfolding drama effectively. For me Saving Private Ryan changed forever the depiction of war, any war, on film. Now, when I see many other films depicting war, they look very shallow and unrealistic. Saving Private Ryan is a huge landmark film and one that touches you deep inside, filling you with a massive appreciation for the soldiers of all sides who bravely fought for our freedom.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2001
Surely no film-maker has come as close as this to recreating actual combat. The hand held cam puts you face down on the beach, then up again zigzagging though obstacles. It actually looks like an old colour WW2 newsreel at times, such is the realism. Instead of perfect choreography and theatrical deaths seen in many older war films we see limbs and heads blown off,bodies dismembered, blood and intestines everywhere. This is quite shocking and exhausting to watch - and its only the first 20 minutes.
If you do get any pleasure out of the opening it has to be the best surround sound on any current film. Bullets zip past and ping off beach obstacles left to right; waves crash resoundingly against landing craft; other later highlights include the distant groaning of tiger tanks as they approach the village.
Hanks is again superb in this film and plays a respected leader secretly cracking under the strain. Other notables include Tom Sizemore as the "rock" of the platoon and Wimpy Uphum, whom I suspect most of us would identify more with if placed in the same circumstances.
Although an American film about American soldiers, anyone ignorant about D-Day would assume Uncle Sam flew the flag alone. This was one of the most important events in history and the other countries that took part do deserve some recognition. None is accorded here although Montgomery does get a spiteful and unneccesary attack. Apart from a few too many fluttering flags and over-the-top cemetery ending, this is a truly great film, hopefully showing the largely ignorant younger generation something of what their grandfathers had to go through.
This film was made for the DVD format and it doesn't disappoint, although a commentary from Spielberg would be appreciated.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2011
I was familiar with the film having seen it in the Cinema and having a DVD, though I lent this out without it being returned so when I saw the Blu-Ray version was around I did'nt hesitate !
It is an excellent film and the initial D-Day Landings sequence are very graphic and show the pity and futility of war. The picture (as has been said before) is good quality though some
scenes are in washed-out colour with a grainy aspect, this is deliberate. If you know about this beforehand its ok ! The sound is good too and with the 5.1 DD benefits a decent Blu-Ray
system. This film does not glorify war - it is almost an anti-war film.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
In the late-90s there were two particular films that redefined their particular genres. Saving Private Ryan was one of them (the other, unfortunately, was The Matrix). Almost every war movie that followed SPR, right down to 2008's Rambo, seemed to be no more than a pastiche of Spielberg's hectic style.

SPR proves what an inconsistent filmmaker Spielberg can be. The man has had his fair share of misfires (Hook, anyone?) but this was his last truly great effort. War of the Worlds and Munich were good, though hardly as revolutionary, but The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can, and the movie that called itself Indy IV were all just too gutless and inoffensive. You'd never believe they were from the same director if you didn't know better.

A lot of critics have repeatedly praised SPR over the years, but they all praise the same things (the documentary style, the realism, etc.) Simultaneously, a lot of people have dismissed it as shallow, badly-written, and void of any thrills beyond the 30-minute mark. But look beneath the surface and you'll find that SPR does actually have a tight screenplay, despite going through the motions on few occasions. The wide and diverse cast (including Paul Giamatti, Ted Danson, Dennis Farina, and Dale Dye) do good with the material. It's refreshing for a war movie to move beyond the 'point of view of one man' cliche.

Janusz Kaminski's desaturated, gritty, high-shutter-speed photography is full of deep blacks and high contrast. This look has been imitated to death over the years, but coupled with Spielberg's hurried, almost unscripted approach to the action it adds an element of authenticity to the film that the copycats have not been able to emulate.

You really have to feel for all those poor soldiers who were massacred on Omaha Beach (all men, I should point out). But what a badly planned mission. No flack jackets, no smoke screens to cover their landing...warfare has come so far in 65 years, it would be insane to send so many hundreds off to die like that now. Many of them were pure cannon fodder and the Military knew it. The film certainly does not hold back on the bloody carnage. Most WWII movies up until that point were sanitized and bloodless. Hardly realistic at all!

The 169 minute running time passes fairly quickly. The film certainly doesn't deserve the criticism that nothing interesting happens after the beach invasion. As it has been imitated many times since, some of then innovative moments (such as the silent 'war is hell' amid battle chaos - which this film does three times!) have become cliches, but don't judge SPR for it.

The film won 5 Oscars, but lost the Best Picture award to Shakespeare in Love, which is absolutely insane. I mean...what were they thinking??? SPR is most certainly a classic, and one of the most innovative and important war films of the past two decades, while Shakespeare in Love is largely forgotten.

The Blu Ray looks superb in 1.85:1 1080p. Janusz Kaminsi's photography looks just brilliant, and the sound design has to be heard (preferably at a high volume) to be believed. Loads of extras are included too.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 2 March 2009
I went to see this in the cinema when it first came out. My friends and I were speechless when we came out, this film is harrowing. The story is simple and the characters may be a little cliched but its hardly the point, what counts here is the depiction of war at its most brutally honest. In this film Spielberg proved his genius to me, rising above the silliness and indulgent sentimentality of most of his work.

There is some sentimentality in this, but as someone who was moved to tears when visiting the war graves at Omaha Beach I do not find it inappropriate. I wondered about the people whose memorials I saw and this film gives a graphic, shocking account of how they died. Veterans have said that in watching the first scenes of this film they were taken back to what they hadn't allowed themselves to remember. Spielberg did his homework well and the grainy, slightly overexposed look to this film adds authenticity.

We are all survivors of war but we do not understand it unless we have direct experience. As a man who would probably been a soldier during WW2 I look at this and wonder how I would have managed, what I would have done. These are questions we should all ask ourselves if we allow our countries to indulge in warfare and this film is starkly honest in its depiction of what is meant by heroism, sacrifice and the altered reality that is war.
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