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Saving Private Ryan Essay Research Paper Steven

Saving Private Ryan Essay, Research Paper Steven Spielberg?s film ?Saving Private Ryan? attempts to recount the horror of war and reach out to the collective social conscious of today?s society. The majority of

Saving Private Ryan Essay, Research Paper

Steven Spielberg?s film ?Saving Private Ryan? attempts to recount the horror of

war and reach out to the collective social conscious of today?s society. The majority of

society have not experienced war and through the historical recollection, the medium of

film and the characters of the story, Speilberg builds a powerful film which touches us all

in the hopes that future generations will remember and not advocate war to resolve

issues. Speilberg stated, ?My hope, my purpose in doing the film this way, is somehow to

resensitize to how bad it was for the men who survived, as well as for those who

perished.?(Taylor)

Steven Spielberg?s film, ?Saving Private Ryan? is a depiction of one of the most

crucial Allied offensive in World War II, D-Day on June 6,1944. German armies under

the direction of Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany had already captured the European

countries of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France,

and Italy. Hitler in his goal or achieving world dominance for Germany had his sights set

on capturing both Britain and the Soviet Union. D-Day was the Allies secretly scheduled

day to invade an 80 kilometer stretch of Normandy Beach, on the coastline of France.

The plan was to have British and Canadian troops invade the eastern shore while the

Americans were to invade the western shore of Normandy under cover from the Allied

airforce.

The Allies had regained control of Italy over the German?s and the attack of the

German army in France on D-Day took place on five beaches along the Normandy Beach,

code named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The initial focus point of the film was

the American invasion of Normandy at Omaha Beach on D-Day. This German stronghold

was the most difficult post to overtake because the German?s held the bank overhanging

the beach to defend their position. This gave them a clear advantage as they could see all

along the beach and could shoot down at the enemy on the shore with ease as there was

very little cover. As the American?s landed on the beach they were immediately fired upon

by the German soldiers and incurred many injuries and casualties. The American army

pressed on under enormous odds and eventually took the beach with the assistance from

the American airforce bombing the German armies and the landing of thousands of

paratroopers inland behind the German lines. The Americans paid a very high price for

victory at Omaha Beach resulting in 7500 American casualties. This victory along with

four others by the British and Canadian troops along Normandy Beach on D-Day gave the

Allied Forces a much needed second front on European soil. The defeat of the German

army in Italy provided the allies with the only other European land base to liberate Europe

from German control. D-Day was a turning point for the Allies which ultimately led to the

German surrender and freedom for Europe. Spielberg creates Saving Private Ryan within

the historical significant event of D- Day to retell the horrors and sacrifices of W.W.II to

society.

Spielberg, ?wanted to show the brutalistic and shear terror of combat

without standard macho posturing and sentimental patriotism.?(Taylor)

?Boot camp for the audience,” Steven Spielberg has called Saving Private Ryan (Extra

Footage). Like a drill instructor yelling at a new recruit, Spielberg opens Saving Private

Ryan with a 25 minute D-Day invasion sequence that engages audiences with the utmost

ferocity. More realistic than any stretch of any other war movie ever made this sequence

brilliantly accomplishes a shrewd dramatic objective, to bring a fictional story to life, with

one of the most influential events of the 20th century (Extra Footage). The audience

could feel the fear on the beach under enemy fire with wounded and dead soldiers

everywhere.

Spielberg conducted thorough research and interviewed veterans of W.W.II to

make the scenes as historically accurate as possible. To make his film as realistic as

possible, Spielberg hired a retired army officer to validate the film and to conduct four

days of boot camp for the actors. This included sleeping out doors in the rain and eating

army rations so that the actors could identify with their roles (Extra footage). To help his

entire crew understand the realism of war, Spielberg iterated his first rule, “There are no

rules. As in combat, things happen fast and unexpectedly, so we cut against expectations,

against any reassuring rhythms” (www.reelreviews.net). To ensure realism and to obtain

the dramatic effect Speilberg took roughly three weeks to shoot the Omaha beach scene.

Spielberg used realism to connect with the viewer and relied on three friends and

first rate filmmakers to help him portray his vision, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski,

picture editor Michael Kahn and sound designer Gary Rydstrom. The scenes of graphic

gore was an effective tool to bring the horrors of war to the audience even though it may

have made some people cringe. For those who have never experienced war, Spielberg use

of hand held camera to film many scenes to give an intimate feel of what war was like by

being close to the action, as well as using the unsteady hand shot to portray confusion and

fear/anxiety that the soldiers would feel. For instance, the hand held camera was utilized

during the filming of the beach invasion. This allowed the viewer to feel the sense of

disarray and Spielberg used it as a metaphor for the numerous thoughts and emotions each

soldier was experiencing. The audience sees the scene through the eyes of the soldiers as

they scurry up the beach desperately trying to seek cover.

Kaminski decided, “the goal was to shoot like a bunch of actual combat

cameramen” (www.cinematographer.com). He found particular inspiration in the

photographs of Robert Capa, whose D-Day images haunted Kaminski because “you feel

that these people are already dead.” To evoke Capa’s aura, Kaminski’s team hit the beach

with shaky handheld cameras letting their focus go fuzzy by mixing the exposure levels

and lighting conditions “so there wasn’t any optical continuity. We wanted viewers to feel

completely disjointed, or confused, from image to image…like the camera is one of the

soldiers, going up and down, hiding, afraid it’s going to get shot” (www.cinematographer

.com).

Kaminski and Spielberg briefly considered filming the entire movie in black and

white but realized monochrome would blunt the impact of the blood from the casualties

and wounded soldiers. This technique helped portray realistic scenery to the audience.

By stripping the lenses of protective coatings, flattening the dark-to-light range, turning

blacks gray and blue skies white they mimicked the bleached look of actual color combat

footage shot during W.W.II . To further stifle any bright Technicolor tones film release

prints went through a chemical process that drained almost all of the color present in the

original negative. This technique helped the audience feel the drearyness and vagueness of

war. Although the soldiers were in a platoon they were lonely, far away from home, no

where to turn with death in front of them.

Speilberg wanted to portray the battle realistically without sensationalizing the war

scenes. He wanted the audience to evoke the feelings of excitement, fear, dread,

adrenaline, sadness, hope, happiness, relief a soldier would experience all at once.

Spielberg wanted the film to demonstrate the sensitivity and authenticity to give his film

credibility especially to the W.W.II veterans who had experienced it. Some of the movie’s

most appalling images of human bodies blown apart in midair required both computer

graphics and on-set stunts. For instance, a severed leg coming off one soldier involved an

animated spray of gore laid over footage of a real-life amputee stuntman. According to

Kaminski, the bulk of the computer graphic work done by George Lucas’ ILM effects

shop was to enhance gun-muzzle flares and to digitally create dozens of ships and barrage

balloons for long shots of the Allied forces massing at the shoreline. Speilberg want the

audience to be emotionally moved by the film and not just an action movie.

Spielberg also uses a blurring technique to give the viewer a better sense of what

war was like. It was utilized in the landing scene when Captain Miller was overwhelmed

by what was happening and became oblivious to everything around him. This technique

gave the audience the feeling of being engulfed in emotion because only Captain Miller

could be seen clearly with everything else being blurred. The only sounds that could be

heard during this time were the crashing waves as Miller was blocking out the killing and

was just focusing on doing a job. The movie’s unsettling shifts to jerky, stop-start speeds

when Captain Miller?s character is overcome by the carnage on the beach were fine-tuned

by Kahn and Kaminski. The editor took footage shot at half the normal speed 12 frames

per second then double-printed each still frame. The result was that the film was projected

at 24 frames per second, the pacing of the action is “normal,” but everything moves in a

strobed-out manner. This provides realism to the viewer as even though things are quickly

happening around Miller it is almost if his mind is in slow motion.

Spielberg used very little scoring throughout the film in order to achieve his vision

of realistic depiction of W.W.II. Intentionally not musically scored the beach assault

wages a full attack on the audiences auditory canals. Sounds of bullets whiz around your

head, shells shoot past and behind you, piles of slugs seem to pierce hundreds of pieces of

metal and flesh within a 360 degree sound field. Sound designer Gary Rydstrom explains

the action, “isn’t at a fixed, safe distance in front of you. You’re in it” (www.RZM.com/

PVT.Ryan). Ironically, to make the scene feel extremely loud Rydstrom uses a technique

that for every 110 decibel plus exploding shell there is a converse valley of low-volume

respite. It was by inserting such contrasts that Rydstrom created the impression of

unceasing noise. A dramatic example of this technique is the disconcerting 90 seconds of

simulated deafness when a shell goes off next to Captain Miller as he was protecting the

bridge at Romell near the end of the film. “I’ve heard of audiences thinking it’s their own

hearing they’ve lost,” says Rydstrom. Spielberg engages the viewer with realistic sounds

of war.

Rydstrom developed his sound mix from hundreds of audio tracks with a talent

that seems unmatchable drawing on an astonishingly precise library of sounds. He used the

Internet to locate sound caches of working weaponry and equipment from all over the

country and then traveled to record them. For example he recorded Browning automatic

rifle shooting rounds in Georgia, Alabama. Why did the bullets ripping into human flesh

seem so sickeningly vivid to the audience? The answer is because it was flesh, to make the

film as realistic a possible. Rydstrom recorded the sound of working W.W.II guns firing

into animal carcasses and butcher-cut slabs of pork to simulate the sound of a bullet

entering human flesh.

Spielberg was so set on not using the movie sound clich of echoing ricochets that

he “called many, many times about it,” Rydstrom says (Reference). Chasing that same

sense of authenticity, Rydstrom talked to many war veterans. “What they mentioned again

and again,” he recalls, “is that German machine guns sounded more ferocious than ours. A

German MG-42 shot 1,100 rounds per minute, about twice as many as the comparable

American gun. That sound became very distinctive and very scary to soldiers because the

bullets came so fast, they were just a blur of steel”(Reference). Heading into the Vill

Spielberg used the sound of raindrops falling and slowly converted them into echoing gun

shots in the Vill . This transition was not only interesting but it showed the elements that

the soldiers faced as well as the perpetual threat of the enemy. Spielberg ensured that the

sounds as well as the picture were authentic to portray the real horrors of the war to the

audience. As a result of some exceptional filmmaking and collaboration, audiences have

come closer to feeling what it was like to be in the crossfire of those weapons than any

civilians in history. Spielberg was successful in showing, ?the brutalistic and shear

terror of combat without standard macho posturing and sentimental

patriotism?(Taylor).

The scene where the Americans meet German soldiers inside the church is a prime

example of Spielberg?s way of building suspense. He uses the ?calm before the storm?

technique by using undertones in dialogue and music to let you know that the storm is

actually coming, the audience just doesn?t know when. Miller and Sizemore have a

conversation about the justification of war, while the medic, Wade reminisces about his

mother. The next day on the battle field the medic is killed. Also the candle lighting in the

church provides a somber feeling like preparing for a loss, even though they had just made

it through the Vill and should have been at least glad to make it.

The score to Saving Private Ryan is a good example of using music to support the

film. The theme song is slightly reminiscent of the remembrance day song giving the

viewer that somber feeling but the other songs in the film are bursting with energy and

almost give the film a certain glory.

Spielberg develops the plot and the characters in the film so that the audience can

identify with them. After over taking Omaha Beach Captain Miller and 7 soldiers next

assignment is to go behind the German lines in France and rescue Private Ryan ??. The

Army wants him rescued as three of his brothers have died in other war battle and the

General doesn?t want his mother to lose him as well. sis based on Each character

represents a unique part of everyone?s personality, while remaining believable. Cpl.

Upham represents childhood and youth, as well as being frightened. PFC Reiben

represents defiance. Medic Wade represents thoughtfulness and healing.

By allowing the viewer to connect with the each of the characters, the feelings that

they have are more strongly felt by the audience. This intensifies the message because the

individual is more involved in the storyline. In total this creates a film which has power,

and Spielberg has definitely accomplished that in the making of ?Saving Private Ryan?

Captain Miller is a human metaphor for determination in Saving Private Ryan. His

reasoning for war, combined with his drive and passion, makes him a mystery. What

profession could this man have other than the Army? It turns out that he is a school

teacher, but his family is what puts the fire in his belly. The journey that Spielberg takes us

on with Capt. Miller?s persona is uniquely interesting. During the first scene, we see him

as a iron gutted army man, yet by the third scene, we begin to see Hanks as more than a

walking weapon, and his intellectual side begins to come through. He uses his quick wits

to answer a question about what he would say ?if? he were to complain, and instead of

whining to his troops and discouraging them, he stated that he thought it was a valuable

mission, with a valuable objective. This also showed his men that he was not going to put

up with any whining from any of them, because he didn?t do it himself. Later in the movie,

he begins to talk with Cpl. Upham, and just as you think he might reveal himself, he hides

in the shadows again, waiting until the pot on him gets larger. Soon after though, when a

conflict breaks out between Sgt. Horvath and PFC Reiben, the Capt. tells the sqaud about

himself to help save face in the mission, and to get the other soldiers to consider what is

important to them, and why they joined the army in the first place. That is the first time

that the audience really sees the real Capt. Miller, and also when the audience begins to

really care what is going to happen to the characters.

At the beginning of the film Capt. Miller is portrayed as a nose to the grindstone

military man, with only the end of his present mission in sight. But as the movie

progresses, we begin to see the other side of Miller. As the pool on what he does for a

living out of the army grows, and tensions arise about a decision that he makes, we begin

to see the emotional side of him. The deep focus on the mission was not military based as

everyone had thought, but it was so that he could once again return home to see his wife

and kids. This was the turning point for the audience, as they began to become

emotionally involved with the Capt. and eventually lead to what make Saving Private Ryan

such a tragedy.

PFC Jackson and Pvt. Mellish were contradictions in the movie. They were both

religious, but were killing men, and being active participants in the war. PFC Jackson even

considered his sharp shooting talent a gift that god gave him to use against the Germans.

(?If god be for us, then who be for them??)Pvt. Mellish had an extra reason to fight the

war, he was Jewish, and showed his contempt for the Nazi?s, during the scene which took

place at the rally point. As Nazi POW?s walked by, he taunted them with the phrase

?yeuden? which means Jewish in German.

Sgt. Horvath showed his courage at the end of the movie, when they reached Remmell.

?quote about best damn thing about the war? was how he justified the battle, and he

fought to the bitter end. With the German?s heavily dogging the weakened American?s

Sgt. Horvath was shot, and mortally wounded. Knowing this he, told Capt. Miller to move

on and he would hold down the fort on the front line, hoping that his already dying body

might save the lives of his other fellow soldiers.

Pvt. Ryan was also a hero, because of his sense of duty, he stayed to protect the bridge at

Remmell, even in light of his brother?s deaths. He told Capt. Miller right out, that there

was no way that he was going to abandon the rest of his unit.

T/4 Medic Wade was the most compassionate soldier out of the fleet. Having to deal with

death everyday, and having it live or die in his hands made him so conscious about it. So

naturally when the other soldiers began making a game out of dead men?s dog tags, in

front of the Division which they belonged to, he became angry. He stormed up to the men,

and started shoving dog tags into the bag, screaming ?the whole airborne is watching,

don?t you realize that??? The other soldiers didn?t allow themselves to see a dead person

behind every tag, only a name, with no meaning. Spielberg used it to show the various

coping mechanisms used by soldiers to deal with how overwhelming war is.

Cpl. Upham represents youth, and fear. He had never been in a combat situation

before, but because he was tri-lingual, he was forced to acompany the fleet sent to resue

Pvt. Ryan. Through the course of the four days which they were together, the Cpl. learned

many lessons. In the begining it seemed as if he was just a tag along, and not part of the

squad, but as the time wore on, he began to fit in with the other soldiers. (Compassion

with Nazi POW before Remmell ties in with Medic)

was a very young man. Obviously educated, he was tri-lingual, but still had to fight in the

war. During the final combat scene you can relate to what he is feeling, because although

he is not completely, it is like he is a child on the battle field.

Spielberg develops the characters in such a way that you can relate to them. Each

character represents a unique part of everyone?s personality, while remaining believable.

_______ represents childhood and youth, as well as being frightened. ________ represents

defiance. ______ represents thoughtfulness and healing. ______ represents…..

By allowing the viewer to connect with the each of the characters, the feelings that

they have are more strongly felt by the audience. This intensifies the message because the

individual is more involved in the storyline. In total this creates a film which has power,

and Spielberg has definitely accomplished that in the making of ?Saving Private Ryan?

Captain Miller is a human metaphor for determination in Saving Private Ryan. His

reasoning for war, combined with his drive and passion, makes him a mystery. What

profession could this man have other than the Army? It turns out that he is a school

teacher, but his family is what puts the fire in his belly. The

At the beginning of the film Capt. Miller is portrayed as a nose to the grindstone

military man, with only the end of his present mission in sight. But as the movie

progresses, we begin to see the other side of Miller. As the pool on what he does for a

living out of the army grows, and tensions arise about a decision that he makes, we begin

to see the emotional side of him. The deep focus on the mission was not military based as

everyone had thought, but it was so that he could once again return home to see his wife

and kids. This was the turning point for the audience, as they began to become

emotionally involved with the Capt. and eventually lead to what make Saving Private Ryan

such a tragedy.

PFC Jackson and Pvt. Mellish were contradictions in the movie. They were both

religious, but were killing men, and being active participants in the war. PFC Jackson even

considered his sharpshooting talent a gift that god gave him to use against the germans.

(?If god be for us, then who be for them??)Pvt. Mellish had an extra reason to fight the

war, he was jewish, and showed his contempt for the Nazi?s, during the scene which took

place at the rally point. As Nazi POW?s walked by, he taunted them with the phrase

?yeuden? which means Jewish in German.

Sgt. Horvath showed his courage at the end of the movie, when they reached Remmell.

?quote about best damn thing about the war? was how he justified the battle, and he

fought to the bitter end. With the german?s heavily dogging the weakened american?s Sgt.

Horvath was shot, and mortally wounded. Knowing this he, told Capt. Miller to move on

and he would hold down the fort on the front line, hoping that his already dying body

might save the lives of his other fellow soldiers.

Pvt. Ryan was also a hero, because of his sense of duty, he stayed to protect the bridge at

Remmell, even inlight of his brother?s deaths. He told Capt. Miller right out, that there

was no way that he was going to abandon the rest of his unit.

T/4 Medic Wade was the most compassionate soldier out of the fleet. Having to deal with

death everyday, and having it live or die in his hands made him so concious about it. So

naturally when the other soldiers began making a game out of dead men?s dog tags, in

front of the Division which they belonged to, he became angry. He stormed up to the men,

and started shoving dog tags into the bag, screaming ?the whole airborne is watching,

don?t you realize that??? The other soldiers didn?t allow themselves to see a dead person

behind every tag, only a name, with no meaning. Speilberg used it to show the various

coping mechanisms used by soldiers to deal with how overwhelming war is.

Cpl. Upham represents youth, and fear. He had never been in a combat situation

before, but because he was tri-lingual, he was forced to acompany the fleet sent to resue

Pvt. Ryan. Through the course of the four days which they were together, the Cpl. learned

many lessons. In the begining it seemed as if he was just a tag along, and not part of the

squad, but as the time wore on, he began to fit in with the other soldiers. (Compassion

with Nazi POW before Remmell ties in with Medic)

was a very young man. Obviously educated, he was tri-lingual, but still had to fight in the

war. During the final combat scene you can relate to what he is feeling, because although

he is not completely, it is like he is a child on the battle field.

Capt. Miller: tragic hero, complete mission and go home to wife and kids

T / Sgt. Horvath: Right hand man,

PFC Rieben: No emotion helped him cope, would rather be doing something ?useful?

Pvt. Ryan: Hero, wanted to stay and finish his mission

PFC Jackson: a contradiction of terms, religion and war, ?If god is on our side, then who

is fighting for them???

Cpl. Upham: fear, young kid, obviously educated, tri-lingual, really shouldn?t be there, has

a conscious.

T/ 4 Medic Wade: compassion, the dog tags, all the work for nothing when he patches up

a guy, and is immediately shot.

Pvt. Mellish: Jewish, again contradiction of terms, religion and war, the hate that must be

inside of him.

Pvt. Caparzo: compassion, the child that looked like his niece, longing for home,

I think Capt Miller has to go in a separate category, considering the story revolves around

him.

You could also place Sgt. Horvath in with Miller, but needs to be done strategically so

that it does not deter from Miller.

Jackson and Mellish, religion and war together.

Medic and Caparzo, compassionate.

Upham could hold a whole paragraph with the fear aspect as well as the youth at war

concept.

PFC Reiben, could also slide in with the contradiction, using no emotion to cope, instead

of religion.

Other Notes:

50% of the movie footage was shot with the handheld camera.

Minimal Background music, and the battle scenes unscored.

W.W.II history: In 1933, Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany and declared

himself ?der Fuhrer? (the leader) ending the existing democratic German government and

making Germany a Fascist nation where no opposition or criticism of the government is

permitted. His Nazi Party began breaking the rules set forth by the Treaty of Versaillies, a

Treaty which restricted . This caused an outcry in Britain, but Neville and Mackenzie King

believed in the policy of appeasement, hoping that that would prevent a war. Hitler used

this to his advantage walking into Czechoslovakia, and later using his position in the

country to take Prague. In doing that, he violated the Munich Pact, and Britain and France

immediately declared war. Hitler then headed for Poland, trying to gain a pathway to East

Prussia, so that he could eventually rule all of Europe. After Poland was taken he set his

sights on Norway, which was taken almost as easily as Poland. The Netherlands, and

Belgium were the next to face the Nazi wrath, as they bombarded in and seized the

country, after the Dutch army surrendered. With the small countries out of the way Hitler

was ready to take on a more ambitious project. On June 14th the Nazi?s gained control of

Paris and on June 16 the French government signed an armistice with Germany. Hitler was

extremely surpassed though that Great Britain did not surrender after the fall of France.

So he approached Churchill about peace between the two, but Churchill would never even

consider the idea. So Hitler carried out a series of air attacks on Britain. After the air

attacks weakened Britain the Nazi?s were supposed to invade, but as the Royal Air Force

mobilized they took down the German planes at a crippling rate. and D-Day was a planned

attack on German forces in France via the English Channel.

When Hitler realized that the Allies were gaining on his troops, he began launching guided

missiles toward Britain, killing many civilian?s and damaging everything. The Allied

Armies moved into Germany in 1945, and after an unconditional surrender of Italy, Hitler

committed suicide to escape capture from the Soviets. The war in Europe was over.

D-day was such an important part of the defeat because the two fronts caused the German

army to divide, allowing the Soviets, and the North American?s to fight against a

weakened army. )

Tom Hanks

determination, perseverance,

Mystery, duty, he?s there to be a soldier, when he gets back home he will be who he was

before.

Spielberg develops each character in a slightly different way.

The way that Captain Miller used gum to stick a mirror on a bayonet to spy on German

sharpshooters, is much like the old-fashioned equipment that editor Michael Kahn lugged

directly to the battle’s filming location. Spielberg refuses to use electronic editing

equipment. He believes that it was the basics that got him to where he is so he is gong to

stick with them. Kahn dragged a Moviola viewer, an Eight Track to the modern day

mini-disc, to the Irish coast, where the invasion was staged. That way, director and editor

could review and splice together footage each day while Kaminski and crew worked on

their shots.

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