• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Saving Private Ryan essay

Free essay example:

Colin Francis 10.1

Saving Private Ryan.

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 first released on September 11th 1998, a joint production from paramount and DreamWorks pictures.  It was directed Steven Spielberg whose other famous films include: Jaws (1975); Jurassic Park (1993) and Schindler's List (1993). The main stars of the film are Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Jeremy Davies and Matt Damon. The film won five Academic Awards (Oscars) including best director in 1999. The story is based on the saving of the last remaining Nyland brother during the American Civil War. Steven Spielberg 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.”  'Saving Private Ryan' is a war film genre film. However, the film breaks some of the traditional conventions of the war film genre. It is a general conception that in a war film, one man against all the odds manages to single-handedly defeat the adversary. However, in this film  there is no individual portrayed as a hero from the opening battle sequence.  Spielberg uses a variety of superlative  camera shots enhancing dramatic clips,emotions and soldier's perspectives.

           The film begins with and elder World War II veteran, James Francis Ryan, and his family visiting a cemetery in respect of his former comrades. Spielberg uses a medium shot to introduce us to the graves. Immediately we notice most are identical,  some are different due to religious reasons. Then it pans into a long shot portraying the amount of lives taken through the war. The music played is to add to the ambience of the proud and sorrowful visit. There also is no dialogue throughout this whole scene. The veteran collapses to his knees in front of a gravestone, overwhelmed with emotion. Subsequent, there is a close up of private Ryan's face  where we can see the emotion he is feeling demonstrated by the tears in his eyes.

          The battle scene opens with the sound of the crashing waves and the change to the sight of the young recruits in the Higgins boats approaching Omaha beach. The sound of the sea continues and Spielberg chooses a close up of each soldier's face on one boat showing the trepidation smeared all over their faces.  The instant chaos of the opening battle scene depicts the struggle and brutality or war. This makes a realistic nature of the battle scenes applying to the effect of making a shocking and realistic film. As the men approach the beach, they are bombarded with shells striking down many instantly. In frantic desperation, men jump over the sides of the boats into the water. We can hear the sound of bullets and anguished cries as the Nazis the brutal killing of the innocent. Following on, we get an under-water camera shot. This is particularly effective as we get the perspectives of the soldiers. We also get a camera shot over the Nazis shoulder, killing soldiers at an extremely high rate. It shows us how easy it is for the Germans to kill them and how badly the Americans are loosing the battle.   One man is shot and blood flows out into the water reinforcing the brutality of war with its shocking realism.

           As Captain Miller staggers out of the sea, there is a close up on him. We see desperation and bewilderment on his face. Spielberg's use of colours to represent images is used a lot throughout this scene. The sea water around him red- filled with blood. Spielberg's use of colour exhibits the mammoth amount of wounds. For a few moments in Captain Miller's perspective, there is a deafening silence, blocking out the anguished cries and bullets. He then puts on his helmet which is filled with blood. As he puts it on his head, blood of other soldiers runs down his face. This strong image tells us he has bigger concerns. A man  is pacing, screaming, holding his own arm as it has been blown off. From these images, heroism of war is displayed as an old wives tale.

           Approaching the end, Captain Miller and his fellow soldiers gain control over the Germans. Germans are surrendering however, some are shot in the fury of the moment punishing them. Some were falling out of a burning bunker. These images are examples of American brutality. Finally they manage to finish off the Germans. Looking over the battlefield, the sergeant says “ That's quite a view” This is to express the amount of damage and killed due to the vile, vicious and vulgar war. As the battle scene finishes, the camera zooms in on a backpack with “Ryan” on the back. This is not Private James Francis Ryan, but his brother. This image is powerful as it builds the story.

           In my response to the film, I fell the opening sequence does prepare for what follows in the film. The instant chaos depicts the brutality and struggle of war. This opening scene sets the story in a shocking realistic way. I found the images and use of colour particularly effective. It made it more shocking and realistic and in my opinion Steven Spielberg did succeed in making a film to portray chaos. I think this film is superlative because the use of camera shots and brutality gives a first person perspective of war.  

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Writing to Inform, Explain and Describe section.

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Related GCSE English Skills and Knowledge Essays

See our best essays

Related GCSE Writing to Inform, Explain and Describe essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Jaws Film Essay

    3 star(s)

    When Brody thinks the girl is getting attacked, there is an over the shoulder scene, in the viewpoint of the chief. This makes the audience exist in the position of the chief. It also, makes the audience only see what he sees; therefore the concentration is of what is in

  2. Saving Private Ryan Essay

    The colouring of the film made it even more realistic because Steven Spielberg had reduced the colour saturation by 60%, although the blood remains vivid as it colours the shoreline a deep crimson. The desaturation caused viewers to complain which shows it had the desired effect of being very realistic.

  1. Saving Private Ryan Media Coursework

    This manipulates the audience as well as creating sympathy and this is how Spielberg gets us in to the movie.

  2. Saving Private Ryan

    We are then shown a soldier looking for his arm. This is showing us that war doesn't only effect a soldier mentally, it also effects them physically most of the time. We are then shown a soldier screaming loudly because his intestines are no longer in his body.

  1. Saving Private Ryan - Media Coursework

    Soon follows close ups of the soldier's terrified expressions, and I believe that this represents the fact that, everyone is the same, no on is immune to the horrors of war, no one is so void of fear that they are not frightened of combat.

  2. saving private ryan

    Visual effects supervisor for Saving Private Ryan, Roger Guyett, described "that panorama, looking back across the cliffs at all the ships in the water, with all of the troops and barrage balloons and barbed-wire barricades in the foreground, [as their] biggest shot in the movie."

  1. Saving private ryan coursework

    As the main character, Tom Hanks, makes his way through the beach, he goes into a state of shock as he witnesses the carnage around him. A medium shot is used to show a man searching for his arm, which has been blown off.

  2. GCSE Saving Private Ryan ENG LANG ESSAY

    He was a leader and everyone obeyed him. Horses and men come, wearing armour and holding weapons - that's when I first realised battle was about to break out. There is not much dialogue in the first ten minutes of the film, but whilst Maximus is talking to the herds of men, you hear the following phrases:- "Will they fight sir?", "Unleash hell" and "strength and honour".

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work