Saving Private Ryan, Saving Private Ryan Movie Review, Movie Review, Film Review
Michael A. Maynez   photo

"Saving Private Ryan"

WAR IS HELL!  I can attest to that, having served during World War II, with the elite of the elite as a ski-trooper, who were later to become the Tenth Mountain Infantry, in Italy.  Having received a Purple Heart.  The enemy always holding the high ground and always just another hill to take.  Becoming a walking sonnabulist, showing cowardice by throwing hand grenades into Riva Del Garda and causing squads of soldiers to hit the ground.  Steven Spielberg has not blanched from telling the Normandy invasion as it was.  Janusz Kaminski has unflinchingly used his camera, to incredible heights and lows.

Sometimes almost newsreel photography.  Unrelenting graphic savagery, so chilling in detail that numbness prevails if you are going to endure the telling of a story of trying to save one soldier, by an eight men squad as diverse as you are ever going to see in a movie, lead by Tom Hanks as the Captain of a quest that will claim so many lives.  Hanks, solo breakdown scene is so memorable that you realize that he is one actor that doesn’t act, be believes in what he is doing.  His performance is integrated by real pros. Edward Burns burns the screen with an indelible performance, as does Tom Sizemore.  A real star is born in the character played by Jeremy Davies, as a timid translator.  So many small roles have been so carefully cast, like Harve Presnell, Ted Dawson, and Dennis Farina to make the film be what it really is.

If I have saved Matt Damon for the last it is because the film also saves him for the last and his performance only indicates a brilliant decision by Spielberg.  He is a diamond that bears watching.  His magnetic good looks with his fine tuning performance remind you that there are still young actors willing to follow in Hanks footsteps. Yes he is worth his weight in gold. The script by Robert Rodat, at times becomes almost too borrowed from other movies, bits, pieces and other fragments.  But that is forgivable I remember after the war sitting in an Italian Theatre and watching the movie “The Fighting Sullivans”, about five brothers who were in the Navy and they all got killed.  A true story and at the time a real wake -up call for having more than one sibling serve together.  When I left the theatre, and Italian told me that is All-American Propaganda, it’s not a true story.  Rodat has used that well to serve him.  One item duly noted in “Saving Private Ryan”, is that officers going into combat. Never wear their rank as flaunting as  Tom Hanks displays his captaincy.  He would be the first to get shot.  My first experience in the front lint was receiving an order to fetch water from a well in an Italian plaza, to which I replied, “ If you want water you fetch it.”  Later I was to find out that I had disobeyed a first lieutenant. “Saving Private Ryan”, is not for everyone, but in this day of so much make-believe, BELIEVEABILITY is greatly admired.

Saving Private Ryan

Tom Hanks ------ Captain John Miller
Tom Sizemore --- Sergeant Horvath
Edward Burns --- Private Reiben
Barry Pepper ---- Private Jackson
Adam Goldberg -- Private Mellish
Vin Diesel -------- Private Caparzo
Giovanni Ribisi --- T/4 Medic Wade
Jeremy Davies --- Corporal Upham
Matt Damon ----- James Ryan, paratrooper
Ted Danson ----- Captain Hamill

Directed by --------------- Steven Spielberg
Written by ---------------- Robert Rodat
Produced by ------------- Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn
Director of photography - Janusz Kaminski
Production designer ----- Tom Sanders
Film editor --------------- Michael Kahn
Music by ----------------- John Williams
Costume designer ------- Joanna Johnston
Rated R

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Original Date Saturday 1 August 1998