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Saving Private Ryan - Media Coursework

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Saving Private Ryan - Coursework 'Saving Private Ryan' is one of Spielberg's epic war films. It tells the story of a group of soldiers, forced behind enemy lines in order to rescue Private Ryan - whose 4 brothers were all killed in combat. The soldiers immediately question their orders - why risk their lives, for the sake of saving one? Faced with impossible odds, they brave unfeasible conditions in an effort to complete there personal 'mission impossible'. Released in mid-September 1998, it was a joint production from the well recognised Paramount and DreamWorks pictures. It is considered by many to be Spielberg's primary masterpiece - staving off competition from other critically acclaimed films of his such as Jurassic Park, and Jaws. Companied with an all-star cast of actors (Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, and Tom Sizemore), the film has achieved much commercial fame - winning 5 academy awards including 'best director'. In my opinion, these were deserved - the phenomenal attention-to-detail attitude adopted by Spielberg ensured that the film was precise, realistic, and amazing. The duration of the film is 2 hours and 50 minutes; notably long for a war film. I believe that as a result of this prolonged length, it emphasises the message of the film - war isn't meant to be glorified; it is long, wearisome, and deadly. This film recognisably breaks the mould of the typical war-film genre - it focuses on realism over fantasy, and as a result of this the film shows the shocked expressions on the soldier's faces as opposed to highlighting fictional acts of heroism. ...read more.


The camera angle shows us the intense struggle of the soldiers both above and below the surface. As the soldiers are immersed in the sea, the sound mutes; again showing the perspective of the soldiers so the audience can experience the horrors of war even more realistically. The lighting in this scene is dull, dark, and lifeless - this reflects the depression of war and is again contrasting from the first scene. In the first scene, there is lots of natural light, and the vision is clear and bright. In my opinion, this is used to represent the misinformed perspectives of those not involved in war - from the outside it is bright, shiny, and glorious. However, in reality it is nothing of the sort - with the dark actuality of the war breathing through. This precise use of lighting allows the audience to further understand the soldier's struggle. The use of a tilted frame is also significant - it reflects the carnage and havoc of the war; it is in no way straightforward and uncomplicated. Following this there is a short sequence where we are introduced to Captain Miller drinking from a metallic flask, and this identifies the main protagonist in the film. The jerky handheld cameras towards the end of the scene where the US soldiers are attempting to reclaim the beach involve the audience in the rush, adding to the general effect of realism. I believe that the overall effect of this scene is to suggest that the Americans are fighting a lost cause, indicating the immense difficulty of the mission. ...read more.


The sombre tone of the music adds to the solemnity of the images, and is a welcome relief for the audience after the exhausting tension of the battle. Overall, this scene is very effective in striking the enormity of the battle; the huge number of casualties and fatalities is shocking and disturbing. The final shot of 'Ryan' on the backpack establishes a link between the lengthy battle sequence and the title - as well as clueing the audience in on the nature of the mission. To conclude, I believe that the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan is incredibly effective in making the film both shocking and realistic. Spielberg stated that he wanted to 'put chaos up on the screen' (aforementioned in the introduction) and I believe that he achieved this aim. The 'instant chaos' scene is particularly effective in achieving this aim - it involves the audience significantly through the jerky, handheld camera movements and the various sound effects which both contribute to the realistic approach of the film. In my opinion, I believe this to be a good film, despite not being an advocate of the war film genre. I thoroughly enjoyed it throughout, and I feel that the opening sequence does prepare the audience well for what happens in the rest of the film. By thrusting the audience directly into the action in a way so they feel they are actively contributing to the war effort the audience are lead to brace themselves for the rest of the film. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ryan Denny ...read more.

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