I’d heard a couple of startling things about this film before seeing it. I’d heard that many veterans were having a hard time getting through the film without breaking down. I’d also seen interviews with veterans who’d seen the film and found the film to be incredibly realistic and consequently difficult to watch. Intriguing comments, since we all know there is no shortage of films about war from this century.
There are not many films that I’ve seen that have actually made me physically react to the action on screen. I’m not speaking of the three-dimensional variety either. What I mean to say is this film had me contorting and cringing at the gripping, horrifying action on screen. Somehow the extreme violence can be justified as the whole world knows that this is an important chapter in human history and a startling, graphic depiction only adds more weight to the seriousness of the subject matter. I’d have to say this is probably one of the most important films of the 20th century because of its frank approach to one of the darkest periods of our time on this earth.
I am always deeply moved and fiercely proud when given cause to consider those that gave their lives to protect our way of life and liberate those that already suffered dislocation, imprisonment and attempted genocide. These soldiers were truly noble and deserve our deepest gratitude. This sentiment is a common one, and will go some lengths to explain why this film has meant so much to so many.
Even with the attention to detail and care taken into how it was shot to accentuate to the fullest degree its realistic approach, it is still hard to imagine what it must have been like to be part of a war. But this film goes a long way to help your mind get around it. It’s hard for me to say what kind of impact the cinematography would have on someone watching it on the small screen of a television versus the big screen, but from my perspective, this film really does benefit from a theatrical presentation.
What “Saving Private Ryan” does extremely well, is show the world the harsh reality of war without pulling any punches. The story about a squad of soldiers sent to retrieve the surviving brother of three dead soldiers is told with competency and due reverence from all perspectives of the characters involved. It is an uncommon and intriguing drama, but it serves as an excuse to describe a setting, rather than the other way around. The story manages to move us through all sorts of different landscapes and scenarios, giving us an unforgettable glimpse of a world unknown to most of us, and terrifying to those who are familiar with it from personal experience.