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Saving Private Ryan

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Hannah Smith May 2004 Analyse the methods used to make the opening battle sequence of Saving Private Ryan both shocking and realistic and say how effective you find it as an introduction to the film. Saving Private Ryan was directed by Steven Spielburg and was first released on the 11th September 1998. The film runs for a total of two hours and fifty minutes and it won five Academy Awards including one for the Best Director in 1999. Steven Spielburg has directed many award winning films such as Jaws in 1975, ET The Extra Terrestrial in 1982 and Minority Report in 2002 as well as Saving Private Ryan in 1998. Some of Saving Private Ryan's leading actors include Tom Hanks as Captain Miller and Matt Damon as Private James Ryan. Saving Private Ryan is about the D-Day invasion killing the third of four brothers so that only one was left alive. It then goes on to tell us about eight men's epic journey trying to save the last Ryan, Private James Ryan. Saving Private Ryan breaks many of the traditional film conventions. It shows emotions as well as battles, weapons and deaths. This is normally left out of war film because it is deemed unnecessary. ...read more.


An over the shoulder shot of a German give the audience the German perspective of a sense of power and advantage over those on the beach. As soldiers plunge into the sea the camera follows giving the America soldier's perspective as they struggle both below and above the water surface. These shots are followed by hand held camera shots that suggest that the audience are making their way up the beach. The soundtrack is dominated by extremely loud gunfire during this sequence. The sound of bullets firing and hitting their targets and shouted instructions create an atmosphere of chaos and confusion. All sounds are muted as the cameras dip below the surface and we witness bullets zipping through the water, continuing to kill people. The muting of the sound gives the soldiers perspective so the audience can see and hear for themselves what the soldiers would have experienced. All of these various perspectives give an overview of the carnage while the camerawork brings the audience close to the action. Spielburg's giving of the German's perspective suggests that the American soldiers are fighting a lost cause and it indicates the immense difficulty of the mission. The third part of the sequence, Captain Miller's Confusion, shows how he staggers out of the bloody sea before stumbling and falling. ...read more.


The opening sequence successfully transported the audience to Omaha Beach on the 6th of June 1944. The opening battle sequence led me to believe that the remainder of the film would be a continuous battle however I later found that this was not the case. I prepared me well for the few battles that followed but it did not give a great insight into what was to follow. I found Saving Private Ryan more realistic than other war films because it broke many of the conventional war film boundaries in that it shows the soldiers emotions rather than just endless battle sequences. I also found it quite shocking because it portrays the horrors of war very realistically. Most war films do not do this so, for many of us, the film differs greatly to our previous view of war. I thought that Steven Spielburg was very successful in putting "chaos up on the screen". He achieved this by using fast cuts from one shot to the next. This gave the film a chaotic feel because, at points, it was quite disorientating. His use of a large amount of actors and props added to this chaos. I think that Saving Private Ryan is a very good film because it gives the audience a detailed insight into war and its effect on the people who are immediately involved. 1 ...read more.

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