Patriotic Picks: Saving Private Ryan
For this particularly patriotic blog series we have already taken a look at Independence Day and Miracle, and today we continue on to another genre of film. Released in 1998, Saving Private Ryan is an epic war film directed by the great Steven Spielberg and written by Robert Rodat. The film follows a team as they search for a paratrooper after his three brothers are killed in the line of service. The film stars Tom Hanks as U.S. Army Rangers Captain John H. Miller and Matt Damon as Private First Class James Francis Ryan. The film also features performances from Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, and Jeremy Davies. Saving Private Ryan ended up being the highest-grossing movie of 1998 and took home five Academy Awards including the award for Best Director.
So, why does this war film rank so highly among our favorite patriotic films?
1) The Mission
Honestly, the whole mission put forth in this movie is one of my favorite aspects of it. The idea of rescuing the only man left in his family adds a certain amount of stakes to the film, but it is also the tension between the main characters during this mission that makes this movie so compelling. It opens up the whole idea of risking one man’s life for the sake of another and what Private James Ryan has done deserve to this kind of rescue. Every man in Captain Miller’s team struggles with this dynamic, and it propels the story forward.
2) The Honest Portrayal
Since this movie’s release, we have had more war movies like Dunkirk and Hacksaw Ridge that have portrayed the gruesome realities of war. However, in 1998, Saving Private Ryan redefined the war film genre. It portrayed the gritty, brutal nature of World War II battles like Normandy and other assaults and did not shy away from the casualties and bloodiness of war. In fact, it went beyond the brutalities to also show small details like how soldiers experienced sea sickness on their approach to Omaha Beach. I’m not going to say that everything in the film was historically accurate, but it does hit a little too close to home with how real it feels.
3) That Final Battle
Every fight and battle in the movie has consequences, but it’s the final battle that gets me every time. Captain Miller and his team could have left after Ryan refused to abandon his group, but they decide to stay. They decide that getting this kid home is the mission, and they decide to stay and defend this bridge against the Germans. It is a costly decision, and the conversation at the end between Miller and Ryan is one that sticks long after the movie ends. It’s an excellent sequence, and it delivers on every bit of emotion and action.
So, have you watched Saving Private Ryan before? What are some of your favorite moments?
Be sure to share them in the comments below, and be on the lookout next Friday as we explore our final patriotic favorite.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.