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Analyse the techniques used to make the opening battle sequence of Saving |Private Ryan both shocking and realistic. Comment on how effective it is as an introduction to the film.

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Analyse the techniques used to make the opening battle sequence of Saving |Private Ryan both shocking and realistic. Comment on how effective it is as an introduction to the film. Saving Private Ryan is a war film with a difference directed by Steven Speilberg depicting the world war battles of Normandy. It was made in 1998 and was based on a true story, the main character playing the part of 'Sgt. Frederick (Fritz) Niland'. However, some details were amended when making the film; for example the real mother of Sgt. Frederick was not a widow, nor did she receive all letters confirming the death of her sons at once. On top of this, one of the brothers presumed dead was actually found later on as a prisoner and was returned home. Saving Private Ryan, on the other hand follows the mission of a band of 8 soldiers sent to save a lowly Private to console his mother's grief over the deaths of her other 3 children. The slight change in the plot, although not exactly true, helps to personalise the war by focusing on a group of main characters and putting us more in the position of soldiers, feeling the sense of loss and disheartenment when they lose a man, and seeing everything through their eyes, particularly those of the main protagonist 'Captain Miller'. Unlike most traditional war films, which can often 'glamorise' war, Saving Private Ryan breaks the concept and instead focuses on the sheer carnage and the mental, physical and emotional damage war causes. Speilberg says 'The last thing I wanted to do in this picture was use the war simply as a springboard for action-adventure. I was looking for realism all the time'. Most noticeably, the plot revolves around a group of eight soldiers who don't actually believe in their mission, continually questioning-and making the audience question- the sense of it all. ...read more.


Even underwater though, the bullets still zap through to the men, which makes the audience realise that in a battle, there is nowhere they can hide to be safe. Throughout, the diagetic sound of gunfire dominates scenes, though there are other intervals in which Steilberg ceases it to enable the audience to concentrate on other things. For example; halfway through, the Captain is shell-shocked as an Image 2: soldiers shouting to Captain Miller for help Show the desperation of the situation as even the Man in charge is helpless. explosion occurs right near him, and the sound is again muted as if to get inside his persona and experience it through his eyes. At this point the audience get a chance to look round at various, individual snapshots of the battle: men crying, screaming, explosions. A man shouts out to him 'What now Sir??' which we only know from lip reading, but Captain Miller stays shocked and confused. It is times like this in the scene that makes the viewers realise how chaotic everything was, the fact that the man who was supposedly in charge can't give out instructions, let alone hear others. This is shocking for the audience because they see how helpless the soldiers were in combat like this. Towards the end of the scene, the relentless gunshots and bullets go quieter for a moment, as a sniper waits to take his shots. There is a moment of quiet, and we hear him muttering prayers and bible quotes. This keeps the audience alert to everything, shows the different parts people had to play. Camera techniques are extremely effective in the film, being jerky and with the characters all the time. Steilberg quotes 'I wanted to hit the sets much like a newsreel cameraman following soldiers in to war' and this was certainly achieved. Everything is always jerky, like the viewpoint of one of the running, uncertain soldiers, to make the audience relate the film to a news documentary and this is achieved with the use of unsteady, handheld cameras. ...read more.


These jump cuts between the german's and American's enable the audience to witness the battle from both points of view, to prevent any biased views given that Speilberg is American. It also enables the audience to put themselves in the same position as the troops and see themselves what they were having to deal with. Again, the words 'Omaha Beach June 1944' are edited, and this is for the newsreel/documented event effect, which makes everything more shocking for an audience. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, despite its not so endearing theme and horrific content. Speilberg started the film with a violent, shocking scene so as to surprise the audience, particularly with the contrast of the peaceful scene before it. Although I don't think anything could prepare you for scenes like the one this film held, the Omaha Beach battle certainly gave me an idea of the awfulness and terror of war and therefore the following events in the plot. In response to the main question, I did find the opening scene-and whole film- shocking, but I am not sure how realistic it was, and I don't think anyone can judge it unless they have been in that situation themselves. Speilberg makes it as realistic as possible though, particularly with the use of the hand held cameras, and throughout the audience will have felt extremely close to all the action. It is an excellent introduction to the film because of the action, not just Captain Miller's, but other soldiers who the audience are later introduced to. Speilberg always had chaos on screen and there was never a dull moment; as dull as a moment can be in a battle. This film was a great award winner, and stood out from other films because of the emotions it could provoke in people, and the highly effective directing skills of Steven Speilberg. A fantastically, depressingly, shocking and realistic war film. ...read more.

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