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World War II was a pivotal event of the 20th century and a defining moment for America and the world. It shifted the borders of the globe.

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World War II was a pivotal event of the 20th century and a defining moment for America and the world. It shifted the borders of the globe. It forever changed those who lived through it, and shaped generations to come. It has been called "the last great war." Nothing could have prepared the soldiers at Omaha Beach for the battle they are about to wage. Filled with hope and resolve, none of them knows if they will survive the small strip of beach ahead of them. As his eyes scan the Normandy coast, Captain John Miller (TOM HANKS) believes that getting himself and his men past the gauntlet is the greatest challenge he has faced in the war. But his most difficult task still lies ahead. Even as the Allied forces begin to get a foothold at Omaha, Miller is ordered to take his squad behind enemy lines on a dangerous mission to find and retrieve one man: Private James Ryan (MATT DAMON). The youngest of four brothers, Ryan is the last survivor, the other three having all been killed in action within days of one another. As the squad pushes deeper into enemy territory, Captain Miller's men find themselves questioning their orders. Why is one man worth risking eight... why is the life of this private worth more than their own? Amid the chaos and terror of those days in early June 1944, this remarkable story searches to find decency in the sheer madness of war. ...read more.


The scene is filled with countless unrelated pieces of time, as when a soldier has his arm blown off. He staggers, confused, standing exposed to further fire, not sure what to do next, and then he bends over and picks up his arm, as if he will need it later. This landing sequence is necessary to establish the distance between those who give the order that Pvt. Ryan be saved, and those who are ordered to do the saving. For Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) and his men, the landing at Omaha has been a crucible of fire. For Army Chief George C. Marshall (Harve Presnell) in his Washington office, war seems more remote and statesmanlike; he treasures a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote consoling Mrs. Bixby of Boston, about her sons who died in the Civil War. His advisors question the wisdom and indeed the possibility of a mission to save Ryan, but he barks, ``If the boy's alive we are gonna send somebody to find him--and we are gonna get him the hell out of there.'' That sets up the second act of the film, in which Miller and his men penetrate into French terrain still actively disputed by the Germans, while harboring mutinous thoughts about the wisdom of the mission. All of Miller's men have served with him before--except for Cpl. Upham (Jeremy Davies), the translator, who speaks excellent German and French but has never fired a rifle in anger and is terrified almost to the point of incontinence. ...read more.


And so it is. His survival depends on his doing the very best he can, yes, but even more on chance. Eventually he arrives at his personal turning point, and his action writes the closing words of Spielberg's unspoken philosophical argument. ``Saving Private Ryan'' is a powerful experience. I'm sure a lot of people will weep during it. Spielberg knows how to make audiences weep better than any director since Chaplin in ``City Lights.'' But weeping is an incomplete response, letting the audience off the hook. This film embodies ideas. After the immediate experience begins to fade, the implications remain and grow. The invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 exists as the largest build-up and movement of soldiers in the history of mankind. It also marked a significant turning point in the second World War, one that would aid in the eventual defeat and downfall of Hilter's armies. The release of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan will rekindle a lot of interest in the second World War, and in particular the real events which took place on June 6, 1944 - also known as D-Day. D-Day WEB has been established as a companion site to Countdown to Private Ryan to provide people with the real historical information about the Normandy landings, and WWII in particular. At this site you will find a whole range of information, from essays, to photographs, to personal accounts written by people who were actually there, as well as a very extensive set of related Internet links so you can seek further information. ...read more.

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