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Saving Private Ryan

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Charlotte Coekin 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. Released on the 24th of July 1998, 'Saving Private Ryan' promised to stun its audience with a war time epic unlike any other. While breaking many of the traditional conventions of a war film, the plot is loosely inspired by the true story of the four Niland brothers, three of whom were killed in action. When the decision was made to retrieve the fourth it sparked intense controversy over the mission to risk eight lives for the sake of one; a controversy which is addressed throughout the film. While directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring an all star cast, 'Saving Private Ryan' uses hand held cameras and sophisticated special effects to capture the chaos and confusion under went by this band of men, incidentally winning five academy awards in the process. Having released this wartime epic Spielberg was questioned as to his aims: "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." ...read more.


There is no music at all throughout this scene which places further emphasis on the reality of what is being witnessed while giving the audience a chance to experience the true sounds of war. The camera shots also become more random - high shots then low shots - over the shoulder shots and long shots. This and the hand held effect used by the cameraman means that the audience is forced to witness the carnage as though they were seeing it through the eyes of one of the men. This technique is further developed as we follow the soldiers beneath the surface of the water. The sound underwater is muffled in the same way that it is in reality and as the camera moves in and out of the water we are made to feel like one of the soldiers - further enhancing the true horror of the situation. In the following sequence, having experienced the initial carnage the Captain experiences a brief period of shock as his emotions are thrown into turmoil. This places emphasis on the fact that ninety percent of the soldiers had never experienced war and had only basic, if any, training. Even for the experienced soldiers such as the captain the shock was no less devastating. ...read more.


Steven Spielberg commented prior to the making of the film that he 'wanted the audience to feel the same as those green recruits that were just off those Higgins boats'. I feel that Spielberg achieved this on a number of levels - least of all through the incredibly real images that make up the opening scene. However the introductory battle sequence also employs a wide range of complex techniques such as astounding camera work and use of sound to further increase the realism of the scene. It is quite clear that one of Spielberg's key aims throughout the shooting of this film was to hit the screens with a sense of realism that had never before been achieved. In my opinion these first few scenes epitomize the term 'realistic' in revolutionary fashion and prepare the audience in a unique sense, for the rest of the film. Not only do these scenes establish themselves to be absolute works of art but they precede a further hour of astonishingly realistic footage. This film truly is a might to be reckoned with. Spielberg has used the characters in such a way, to reinforce the overall realism in the scene. By using one stereotypical character to represent the professional soldiers fighting on that day, he contrasts the rest of the characters to him, emphasising their statuses as average civilians. ...read more.

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