Saving Private Ryan is undoubtedly one of the best films I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Unlike many war films Saving Private Ryan does not glorify war in any sense and shows the true brutality and horror that many soldiers endured during the Second World War. The 27 minute long opening scene, portrayed through the eyes of Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) presents the sheer carnage of the Omaha beach Landing during the Normandy landings on June 6th 1944 (D-Day). This opening scene is incredibly graphic and is not advisable viewing for anyone under the age of 16 but gives a real insight into the ugly naked truth of warfare. The film, directed by Steven Spielberg, was incredibly successful and was praised by many veternas of the D-Day landings. D-Day is often viewed as a great allied victory, even a turning point in the Second World War, but the reality was that success hung in the balance and thousands upon thousands of innocent young men were slaughtered taking a little beachhead in France. Once the dramatic beach scene is concluded the film follows Captain Miller's unit through France on their mission to find a young paratrooper named James Ryan and bring him home. As the last surviving brother of four in the United States military it is deemed that he should be allowed to return home to his distraught parents as their family had already given so much for their nation. Though there is some scepticism about the reality of this mission and whether such events would truly have occurred often in the war the film is largely historically accurate and Miller's squad do continuously question the nature of their mission and why they have sacrificed good men to find one cocky young private who doesn't even feel he needs rescuing.
This mission is chosen by Spielberg, many critics argue, to further demonstrate the futility of war; why are so many lives disregarded for so little? Tom Hanks, who always gives everything to his character, plays the role of Captain Miller excellently and his squad also include a rather star-studded cast which includes Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Tom Sizemore and Matt Damon as Private Ryan. Another brilliance of the film is that it explores every aspect of war; from the German point of view you see that although they are killing thousands of Americans landing on the beaches from their fixed machine gun nests they too are just as terrified and realise that they will be overrun and inevitably be killed. At one point an American soldier searching the pockets of a dead German finds a Hitler Youth badge and turns him over to see that the dead German is perhaps only 16 years old. The film does not lead you to hate the enemy as in some war films but rather helps you understand that none of the soldiers really want to be fighting and that German or American they are only there because their superiors have ordered them to be and in a heart warming moment Captain Miller frees a captured German instead of executing him and the man promises not to give away their position.
War is not fun and it is not a game and it is concerning how video games influence young people to believe that warfare is 'cool'. Saving Private Ryan is a truly incredible film which reveals the true nature of war in all its horror, gore and prejudice. Coupled with several impressive performances from the actors involved and a series of dramatic scenes and explosive effects make Saving Private Ryan an absolute must watch! I would confidently give this movie 5/5 stars and it was indeed nominated for 11 Academy Awards, Spielberg winning best director and four more awards going to the film. It was so popular that when it was released on video the film earnt $44 million from sales!