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|Index||2154 reviews in total|
525 out of 668 people found the following review useful:
Actually it's pretty GOOD history, 10 June 2001
Author: dedjim from Anchorage, AK
I know it's fashionable to trash successful movies but at least be honest
about the trashing... Pvt. Ryan was fiction but it was pretty good
HISTORICAL fiction. The details were well thought out and based on reality.
There was nothing stupid about the portrayal of the German army... Rommel DID blunder in his placement of force, The high command DID think Calais was going to be the invasion spot, not Normandy. Hitler didn't wake up until noon on that day and his aides were afraid to wake him. The Rangers did come in right behind the first wave and did take a beach exit by sheer will to get the hell off the beach. The bluffs were the scene of heavy close fighting. The german defenders were mostly Eastern European conscripts from defeated areas. (note that the 2 men that tried to surrender were NOT speaking German). There WAS a young man rescued from interior Normandy after his brothers were all killed. He WAS an airborne trooper (the difference was that he was found by a chaplain and was removed from the front.)
The battles inside Normandy were small actions town to town, street to street, house to house. Small actions like taking the radar station happened. Small actions like a handful of men defending a river bridge against odds happened. Small squads of men, formed out of the misdrops banded together ad hoc to fight. There were all enlisted groups and all officer groups. A General did die in the glider assault. FUBAR aptly described much of what happened that day.
And there were only Americans in the movie because the Brits and Canadians were many klicks away in a different area... this was Omaha beach. The story was an American one. And Monty DID bog down the advance and everyone knew it. And as for "American Stereotypes"... well those pretty much define America: my college roomie was a wise-ass New York Jew. My best friend was a second generation east coast Sicilian. My college girlfriend was a third generation German. My first wife was French and English. I'm Irish, my boss is Norwegian and I work with a Navaho... you get the point?
So much for it being bad history. It was in fact an excellent way to let a jaded and somewhat ignorant-of-their-past generation *feel* something of what their grandparents (LIVING grandparents) went through. It is perhaps less important that the details be exact as the feel be right. Even now the details are not fully known or knowable about that campaign... it was too big, too complex and too chaotic to be knowable. There is not even an accurate casualty count of D-Day itself.
Now as to the depth of characters. What I saw there was the extraordinary circumstances into which ordinary people were thrown and what happened to them. I saw the things that would mark a generation (I have heard in my elderly male patients sentiments similar to what Cpt. Miller was expressing when he announced his ordinariness) I saw the dehumanization that occurs with war and its mitigation moment to moment, man to man... Cpt. Miller didn't know anything about Ryan and he didn't care... until Ryan revealed his humanity to him with his story of his brothers. Pvt. Reiban was ready to walk out of the situation until he discoverd his captains ordinariness and his humanity. Then he began to look to him almost as a father. Pvt. Mellish rightfully delights in his revenge for all the times he's had to take it because he was Jewish by telling German captives he's "Juden!" Nerdish Cpl. Upham can stand alongside his bigger, stronger, braver Ranger compatriots and describe the poetry and melancholy of Edith Piaf's song... then face his cowardice, turn around and stand up in the face of danger and finally demonstrate the dehumanization of the enterprise he was enmeshed in by executing Steamboat Willie... even though Willie had no more choice about being there than Upham did and in other circumstances would have made a friend.
I could go on and on with this but enough already. OK, perhaps it is not The Best Movie Ever Made but it is still a good movie. And if one will take the blinders of fashionable negativism off they will see it. Finally, this is not a patriotic story... if anything it is an acknowledgement and thank you to all those old men still out there that did so much for us. To them I say a deep and sincere thank you.
399 out of 548 people found the following review useful:
This is one of the greatest movies ever made., 17 May 2000
Author: morales123 from New York City
To think that this movie did not win Best Picture is a crime. Director
Steven Spielberg uses all of his talent and resources to give to the world
the greatest war film ever made.
Though it's true that this is not the type of movie you want to sit down with the family and eat popcorn, the emotional drive of the picture, the story's poignant messages, and the fantastic acting of the cast draws you into a world that is both dangerous and unpredictable.
Spielberg is able to take you into action and make you feel as if you are a participant in the movie and not just a viewer. This is Tom Hanks' best movie he ever did. Forget his performances in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump (though they were also good); he should have received another Oscar for the role of Capt. John Miller, a leader who must act strong in front of his men, but must also hide his emotions from them. It would have been well-deserved if he won again.
I give this movie my highest recommendation. Saving Private Ryan is a movie that makes you realize how life is precious and how honor and duty, though they are deep philosophical concepts that are praised in war, can put you in jeopardy of losing your life for something you may not believe in.
427 out of 613 people found the following review useful:
The Greatest War Movie Ever Made, 29 July 1998
Author: Cindy R. Jure (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Riverside CA
It 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 movies
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 congress as well as the President 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. I say this as a US Marine.
269 out of 333 people found the following review useful:
War is hell, and "Saving Private Ryan" peeks into the gates of Hades, 16 August 1999
Author: Kyle Milligan (email@example.com) from Toronto, Canada
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'd heard a couple of startling things about this film before seeing it. I'd
heard that many veterans were having a hard time getting through the film
without breaking down. I'd also seen interviews with veterans who'd seen the
film and found the film to be incredibly realistic and consequently
difficult to watch. Intriguing comments, since we all know there is no
shortage of films about war from this century.
There are not many films that I've seen that have actually made me physically react to the action on screen. I'm not speaking of the three-dimensional variety either. What I mean to say is this film had me contorting and cringing at the gripping, horrifying action on screen. Somehow the extreme violence can be justified as the whole world knows that this is an important chapter in human history and a startling, graphic depiction only adds more weight to the seriousness of the subject matter. I'd have to say this is probably one of the most important films of the 20th century because of its frank approach to one of the darkest periods of our time on this earth.
I am always deeply moved and fiercely proud when given cause to consider those that gave their lives to protect our way of life and liberate those that already suffered dislocation, imprisonment and attempted genocide. These soldiers were truly noble and deserve our deepest gratitude. This sentiment is a common one, and will go some lengths to explain why this film has meant so much to so many.
Even with the attention to detail and care taken into how it was shot to accentuate to the fullest degree its realistic approach, it is still hard to imagine what it must have been like to be part of a war. But this film goes a long way to help your mind get around it. It's hard for me to say what kind of impact the cinematography would have on someone watching it on the small screen of a television versus the big screen, but from my perspective, this film really does benefit from a theatrical presentation.
What "Saving Private Ryan" does extremely well, is show the world the harsh reality of war without pulling any punches. The story about a squad of soldiers sent to retrieve the surviving brother of three dead soldiers is told with competency and due reverence from all perspectives of the characters involved. It is an uncommon and intriguing drama, but it serves as an excuse to describe a setting, rather than the other way around. The story manages to move us through all sorts of different landscapes and scenarios, giving us an unforgettable glimpse of a world unknown to most of us, and terrifying to those who are familiar with it from personal experience.
250 out of 339 people found the following review useful:
Breathtaking, 17 November 1999
Author: weiz_one from Strongsville, Ohio
I have never been affected by a movie the way Saving Private Ryan affected me. That movie really took me out of my seat in the movie theater and practically had me believing I was really in the battle with John Miller. When somebody was dying in that movie, it felt as if you could almost feel their pain. Speilberg did an unbelievable job of putting realism into this movie with the camera-work and everything else. Simply amazing. An all time great.
148 out of 215 people found the following review useful:
Numbing experience of SPR redeems baby boomers..., 25 January 2000
Author: John A. Nesbit (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Phoenix, Az.
It's been over a year since first seeing Saving Private Ryan -- it's a
worthy effort by Speilberg--his best since Shindler's List by far. You've
probably heard about the amount of violence, blood, and gore and that's all
true--it's got the Viet Nam movie style violence (and then some) but it's
not gratuitous. Were it sanitized like early WWII movies, modern audiences
probably wouldn't take it as seriously.
The movie has that trademark Speilberg style--the structure is all tied up and unified from beginning to end, the emotional symbols abound, the music swelling when he's working at your emotions, the hand held camera that worked so well in Shindler's List to give you a feeling of participation, camera angles and periods of silence to disorient you (like Shindler), suspense techniques learned from Hitch... It's a movie that stays with you for a period afterwards.
Hanks will be the early front runner for Oscar after this flick--Academy members like him AND it IS his best acting job ever. While Speilberg will likely be criticized for attempting to manipulate the audience's emotions while keeping a distance from the inner core of his characters, Tom Hanks reveals a really complex military leader in this story, and does so without overacting--somehow it comes from within. While you may not empathize deeply with many of the platoon, you will still feel something because of the relationship that is formed with Hanks.
After the initial set-up, you will have the opportunity to participate in the D-Day operation and experience the horror of it. Those who have been in a real war can comment about how realistic or not Speilberg captures its chaotic horror in this scene.
In my case I again feel very lucky that my draft number was high, so I never had to face Nam like many of my classmates. Speilberg reminds us brutally in "Saving Private Ryan" that we All have a debt to pay to the brave souls who have sacrificed so much for us. What Tom Hanks does with his performance is to remind us of this debt in a very personal way.
164 out of 281 people found the following review useful:
I Agree: This Is The Best War Movie Ever Made, 27 February 2006
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
Without looking, I am sure other reviewers here have headlined their
article "Best War Movie Ever Made"" and I agree. However, before
briefly discussing the film, let me just say if you don't have a decent
5.1 surround sound system, you aren't going to fully appreciate this
It's a great film to start with, and sitting in a room surrounded by five speakers with bullets flying from all directions around you - as in that spectacular 22- minute opening scene or in the final 45 minutes of action against the Germans in tanks - is an astounding movie experience. The sound in this film elevates it even higher.
The visuals are outstanding, too. I've never seen so many grays, beiges and olive-greens look this good: perfect colors for the bombed-out French city where the last hour takes place, perfect for the faces and uniforms of the gritty soldiers, for the machinery, the smoke-filled skies, etc.
My only complaint is the usage of Lord's name in vain 25-30 times, but, hey, when you consider it's tough men in tough times, that's what you are going to hear. In real life, the profanity probably was worse than the film.
It's hard to picture the brutality of war being any worse than you see here, but it probably was. This is about as graphic as it gets. The violence and gore was shocking when this film came out in 1997 and still is when watched almost a decade later. It's unbelievable what some of the WWII soldiers went through, but that can be said for any war. I believe the purpose of this film was to pay tribute to the sacrifices these men made, and it succeeds wonderfully. Hats off to Steven Spielberg and to Tom Hanks, the leading actor in here, both of whom have worked hard for WWII vets to get the recognition they deserve, not just on film but in a national memorial.
Anyway, language or blood and guts aside, this is still an incredible portrait of WWII. The almost-three hour film is riveting start-to-finish, especially with that memorable beginning action scene, probably the most dramatic in the history of film.
As "entertaining" as those action scenes were, I found the lulls, if you will, to be even better. Listening to Hanks and his men discuss various things as they look for Private Ryan, was fascinating to me. Hanks is just superb in here and once again shows why he is considered one of the best actors in his generation.
The most memorable and powerful moment among the "lulls," is the shot early on of the Ryan mother sinking to her knees on her front porch as she realizes she is about to get disastrous news from the war. Moments later, Harve Presenell, playing Gen. MacArthur, eloquently reads a letter by Abraham Lincoln that is so beautifully written, so profound that it is quoted near the end of the film, too, and I never get tired of hearing it.
This is a man's movie, and shows the horrors of war as few others ever have. To say it is "memorable," just doesn't do it justice. It is the greatest war movie ever made....period.
213 out of 391 people found the following review useful:
This should cool off the Rambo wannabes, 15 April 2000
Author: helpless_dancer from Broken Bow, Oklahoma
The opening beach assault sequences were the most violent, realistic, and upsetting filming I've ever seen; looked as though the thing was actual combat footage. The shushing noises of rounds cutting through the air was the most chilling part of all. Perfect portrayal of the insane stupidity of war and the anguish of all who enter this most foolish of enterprises. A must see.
132 out of 234 people found the following review useful:
Excellent despite some Spielberg slips into sentiment, 11 September 2002
Author: bob the moo
During the Normandy landings during WW2 two brothers are killed. In another
part of the world another of the Ryan brothers is killed in action, leaving
their mother with one remaining son and three telegrams due to be delivered.
A group of men, led by Captain Miller set out to reach Private Ryan and not
only break him the news but to safely return him for return to the
What can I say it is an excellent film despite some minor flaws. The plot is based on a real life situation during WW2 and allows for us to follow a group of men as they take part in the horrors (and humanity) of war. This is the film's strength and it is never stronger than in the first 25 minutes and, to a lesser extent, the final 20 minutes. The opening of the Normandy landing is simply pure emotional power and is really well done it is so powerful that the actual plot itself is a bit of a letdown. I love Band of Brothers because the focus was on the war and what it was like to be involved rather than a sort of soap opera story. Here the plot is still very good but can't really follow that opening.
It also sinks into sentiment a tad too often. For example Ryan's mother lives in this sort of Norman Rockwell painting that is Spielberg's vision of middle America. Also there is a little too much use of gawkish dialogue as well although it's hard to criticise the death scenes for being emotional, because they should be.
A minor flaw that is easy to get over is the lack of Brits. Like Band of Brothers (which had a few cockney accents) this is an AMERICAN film so of course they will focus on the American experience. However it would have been nice to have some British (or any other) voices or faces among the Allies. I can understand why the film opens and closes with the stars and stripes and why the film focuses on the yanks but a little bit of perspective would be useful. There's nothing wrong with focus but when it totally excludes huge bits of information then it's a problem. It always makes me think of the way that Michael Caine took his children back to the UK when they were taught in an US school that WW2 started in the 1940's (ie when America joined).
However this is a minor flaw as, in fairness, it's an American film why be surprised when it's focus is Americans! Of the cast Hanks is good he is much more subtle than his Oscar roles where he played to the crowd. He benefits from having a great support cast of good actors, current actors, old faces, up and comers etc. Sizemore, Burns and Farina are the good current actors. Damon, Ribsi, Diesel, Martini etc are all very good on the way up although Damon has one of the simplest characters. They may all be slight stereotypes of Americans but it's not a major flaw just a screen writer wanting to cover all bases I think, although it does grate that they cover all these backgrounds but can't squeeze any other Allies in to the edges.
Overall it is excellent despite some stereotyping, US flag waving and the usual Spielberg love of sentimentality. Even if the actual plot is flimsy Spielberg expertly puts us as close to experiencing the horrors and the humanity within war as I hope we'll ever be.
110 out of 198 people found the following review useful:
Amazing insight into World War 2 battles that take your breath away!!, 13 November 2001
Author: steven blackburn
An amazing and compelling insight to warfare. Umbelievable camera shots/angles bring World War 2 to life especially for the US troops on D-Day. The use of flash bullets, and color saturation just add to the effect of a killing ground that not many people survive to come back from.
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