Saving Private Ryan [1998]

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper
Genre: Action, Drama, War
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 169 minutes

When Steven Spielberg was an adolescent, his first home movie was a backyard war film. When he toured Europe with Duel in his 20s, he saw old men crumble in front of headstones at Omaha Beach. That image became the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, his film of a mission following the D-day invasion that many have called the most realistic--and maybe the best--war film ever. With 1998 production standards, Spielberg has been able to create a stunning, unparalleled view of war as hell. We are at Omaha Beach as troops are slaughtered by Germans yet overcome the almost insurmountable odds. A stalwart Tom Hanks plays Captain Miller, a soldier's soldier, who takes a small band of troops behind enemy lines to retrieve a private whose three brothers have recently been killed in action. It's a public relations move for the Army, but it has historical precedent dating back to the Civil War. Some critics of the film have labeled the central characters stereotypes. If that is so, this movie gives stereotypes a good name: Tom Sizemore as the deft sergeant, Edward Burns as the hotheaded Private Reiben, Barry Pepper as the religious sniper, Adam Goldberg as the lone Jew, Vin Diesel as the oversize Private Caparzo, Giovanni Ribisi as the soulful medic, and Jeremy Davies, who as a meek corporal gives the film its most memorable performance. The movie is as heavy and realistic as Spielberg's Oscar-winning Schindler's List, but it's more kinetic. Spielberg and his ace technicians (the film won five Oscars: editing (Michael Kahn), cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), sound, sound effects, and directing) deliver battle sequences that wash over the eyes and hit the gut. The violence is extreme but never gratuitous. The final battle, a dizzying display of gusto, empathy, and chaos, leads to a profound repose. Saving Private Ryan touches us deeper than Schindler because it succinctly links the past with how we should feel today. It's the film Spielberg was destined to make. --Doug Thomas

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Captain Miller:
Well when I think of home, I... I think of something specific. I think of my, my hammock in the backyard or my wife pruning the rosebushes in a pair of my old work gloves.

Private Ryan:
This, this one night, two of my brothers came and woke me up in the middle of the night. And they said they had a surprise for me. So they took me to the barn up in the loft and there was my oldest brother, Dan, with Alice, Alice Jardine. I mean, picture a girl who just took a nosedive from the ugly tree and hit every branch coming down. And... and Dan's got his shirt off and he's working on this bra and he's tryin to get it off and all of a sudden Shawn just screams out, Danny you're a young man, don't do it! And so Alice Jardine hears this and she screams and she jumps up and she tries to get running out of the barn but she's still got this shirt over her head. She goes running right into the wall and knocks herself out. So now Danny's just so mad at us. He, he starts coming after us, but... but at the same time Alice is over there unconscious. He's gotta wa... , wake her up. So he grabs her by a leg and he's drag, dragging her. At the same time he picks up a shovel. And he's going after Shawn, and Shawn's saying, what are you trying to hit me for? I just did you a favor! And so this makes Dan more angry. He tries to swing this thing, he looses the shovel, goes outta his grasp and hits a kerosene lantern. The thing explodes, the whole barn almost goes up because of this thing. That was it. That was the last, that was, Dan went off to basic the next day. That was the last night the four of us were together. That was two years ago. Tell me about your wife and those rosebushes?

Captain Miller:
No, no that one I save just for me.

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