Review: Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan (Dir.: Steven Spielberg; Cast: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon et al.)

Steven Spielberg’s World War II drama, Saving Private Ryan is more of a drama than a war film. The war in Saving Private Ryan is the stage, setting up a playground for a number of individuals caught in a singular situation, forced to make singular choices. As a character quotes in the film, “War educates the senses, calls into the action the will, perfects the physical constitution, brings men into such swift and close collision in critical moments that man measures man.”

Saving Private Ryan is about all that. It explodes into life with an assault on the senses, will (or the lack of it) drives characters and the story with them and collisions are aplenty. The strength of Saving Private Ryan lies in its characters, who are more than mere foot soldiers in this theatre of war. The film starts off with the landing of an US battalion at Normandy . Soon, the storyline swings to an unpredictable path and the viewer is engaged in the thoughts and actions of a group of men whose paths, both literally and figuratively, are laden with uncertainty.

The war in Saving Private Ryan is the stage, setting up a playground for a number of individuals caught in a singular situation, forced to make singular choices

However, the reason that Saving Private Ryan is a remarkable chapter in cinema history is not just its storyline, characters and their acts, but the theatre of their play itself. Spielberg brings out the ferocity of war to tremendous effect. The viewer is bombarded with gruesome sights and shell-shocking sounds. The violence is captured with immense skill, but true to what is perhaps one of the themes of the film as well as its maker, is never glorified or even rendered aesthetic.

As for the performances, nearly the entire cast is terrific, rendering the movie’s exceptional circumstances a credibility which wraps the viewer in its web.

The setting of WW II has deeply influenced cinema and directors from lands far and wide. In the gallery of those films, there are quite a few masterpieces, most of which are united by the fact that they are more than mere war films or war stories, binding in tales of the human spirit. Saving Private Ryan, effortlessly, belongs to that top drawer.

Saving Private Ryan IMDb link

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